Heat of Passion: When Murder Becomes Manslaughter
- 11 May
This is part II of my explanation of Washington, D.C. homicide laws and their consequences. As previously noted in part I, a Second Degree Murder (“SDM”) charge can be reduced to Voluntary Manslaughter (“VM”) when certain mitigating circumstances are present. A Manslaughter conviction is preferable to a SDM conviction because the penalties are less severe. Of course, you don’t just have to settle for a VM conviction if you are ever facing homicide charges. An experienced D.C. criminal defense attorney can ensure that you have the strongest defense and that your rights are adequately protected.
Voluntary Manslaughter is defined as an intentional homicide committed under extenuating circumstances which mitigate, but do not justify or excuse, the killing. Mitigating circumstances are present in two situations. The first is when the defendant acts in the heat of passion caused by adequate provocation.