Of all the different types of crimes in Carteret County, North Carolina, murder charges, including manslaughter, are considered the most serious. Murder is defined as the unlawful killing of a human being. North Carolina recognizes different levels of severity and degrees of culpability. When the prosecution cannot prove that the defendant intended to kill the victim, they may bring manslaughter charges.
Discuss Your Case With a Carteret County Manslaughter Attorney
If you face manslaughter charges in Carteret County, the penalties are serious. You will face jail time, fines, and a permanent criminal record if you are convicted. A conviction for manslaughter can result in your freedom being taken away and your life being permanently changed. Contact Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, as soon as possible to discuss your case and learn more about our skilled criminal defense attorneys.
Voluntary Manslaughter Charges in Carteret County
Voluntary manslaughter is the killing of a human being due to provocation. Provocation means a sudden rage or heat of passion caused by a person or situation. In a voluntary manslaughter charge, the defendant did not intend to kill someone. Instead, they were provoked into killing the victim. Voluntary manslaughter is a Class D Felony in Carteret County, North Carolina. The penalties for voluntary manslaughter range from 51 to 64 months in prison.
The four most common legal defenses to voluntary manslaughter charges involve claiming that it was an accident, claiming self-defense, and claiming that the prosecution doesn’t have enough evidence to convict you. Prosecutors must prove every element of a manslaughter charge beyond a reasonable doubt. In other cases, you may be able to argue that you were wrongfully accused or that you were acting in self-defense.
Involuntary Manslaughter Charges in Carteret County
The penalties for involuntary manslaughter are not as severe as those for voluntary manslaughter, but being convicted carries life-altering consequences. Involuntary manslaughter is considered a homicide charge that involves killing a human being due to recklessness or criminal negligence. With involuntary manslaughter, the defendant who committed the homicide didn’t actively intend to kill the victim but still caused the victim’s death.
Criminal negligence means engaging in conduct that grossly deviates from what an ordinary and reasonable person would do under the circumstances. What an ordinary person would do is based on a normal, reasonable standard instead of an actual person. Criminal negligence involves an action that shows a total disregard for human life. In North Carolina, the charge of involuntary manslaughter is a class F felony punishable by 13 to 16 months in prison.
The Difference Between Voluntary and Involuntary Manslaughter in North Carolina
The difference between involuntary and voluntary manslaughter involves the defendant’s intention at the time of the killing. And a voluntary manslaughter case, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant wanted to kill the victim. On the other hand, in an involuntary manslaughter case, the defendant did not intend or mean to kill the victim. Instead, the defendant’s reckless or criminal negligence resulted in the victim’s death.
Even when a person’s actions were a total accident, if they caused the death of another person, they can face involuntary manslaughter charges. When prosecutors can prove that the defendant placed the victim in a dangerous situation with disregard to human life and the victim’s death resulted, they can bring involuntary manslaughter charges.
“Death By Vehicle” Charges in Carteret County
Many states, including North Carolina, have a specific category of manslaughter related to car accidents. When a driver kills another person while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol or committing a traffic violation, they can face death by vehicle charges. As with other types of manslaughter, the prosecution does not need to prove that the defendant intended to kill the victim with his or her vehicle. Instead, the prosecutor will only need to prove that the car accident that caused the victim’s death resulted from intoxication.
There are three different levels of death by vehicle charges: misdemeanor, felony, and aggravated felony. Misdemeanor death by vehicle charges involve a driver causing another person’s death while committing a traffic violation other than a DWI, such as while speeding, texting while driving, or reckless driving. Misdemeanor death by vehicle is a class A1 misdemeanor that carries a jail sentence of up to 150 days and fines.
Felony death by vehicle is a class D felony that involves causing the death of another person while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol. The penalties for felony death by vehicle conviction include a jail sentence between 38 to 160 months and fines. Finally, aggravated death by vehicle occurs when the defendant commits a felony death by vehicle and has a prior DWI conviction. Motorists convicted of any level of death by vehicle face a driver’s license revocation for at least one year.
Defenses to Death By Vehicle Charges
Prosecutors cannot convict a defendant of death by vehicle charge unless they prove that the driver’s impairment or traffic violation was a legal cause of the victim’s death. They must show a direct link between the defendant’s unlawful driving in the death. Suppose the car accident was caused by a third-party driver who swerved into another person’s lane, causing death. In that case, even though the defendant was intoxicated while driving, their intoxication wasn’t the legal cause of the accident, and they can’t be charged with death by vehicle.
Contact a Carteret County Manslaughter Attorney Today
If you’ve been charged with manslaughter in Carteret County, North Carolina, your freedom and future are in jeopardy. You need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Contact Hancock Law Firm, PLLC today to schedule an initial consultation to learn more about protecting your rights and advocating for the best possible outcome in your case.
Hancock Law Firm serves residents in Beaufort, Morehead City, and throughout all of Carteret County.