The term homicide includes a class of crimes that refer to the unlawful killing of another human being. There are several forms of homicide with varying degrees of severity and punishment. Murder is the unlawful killing of another with malice aforethought. We discuss murder in South Carolina in another blog. South Carolina criminal law provides for a lesser degree of homicide, and that is manslaughter. Involuntary manslaughter in South Carolina is also a crime that can be charged if the facts and circumstances fit the definition of that crime under South Carolina criminal law.
Manslaughter charge in South Carolina
- In South Carolina Manslaughter is defined as “the unlawful killing of another without malice, express or implied.”
- The statute does not lay out elements for this crime but in this context, malice would signify the intention to injure the victim.
A common example of a killing that would occur without malice would be if the defendant in the “heat of passion” was so provoked and angry that his actions became almost uncontrollable. For example:
- The defendant was attacked, through no provocation of his own, in a non-life threatening or seriously bodily threatening matter (such as a punch in the face), and the defendant got so angry that he instantly hit back repeatedly with enough force to cause death.
With this example he would have still committed a homicide crime but it may fall short of murder because he or she did not seek out a confrontation or plan to hurt anyone, and an extreme set of circumstances had to occur for he or she to kill someone. This is in stark contrast to a similar scenario that would surely be murder:
- The defendant was punched in the face by someone for no reason that he can tell, he leaves the scene. He then he bumps into this person at a grocery store a week later and beats the person up to the point of death in order to get back at him for the previous incident.
This example is clearly murder, not manslaughter. The difference is that one occurred in the heat of passion, while the other occurred with malice.
Punishment for Manslaughter in South Carolina
Someone convicted of Manslaughter in South Carolina will be sentence to a prison sentence between two and thirty years.
Involuntary manslaughter in South Carolina
While manslaughter lacks the malice element and is much less serious than murder, there is a crime even less serious than manslaughter – involuntary manslaughter. Involuntary manslaughter is a homicide crime. South Carolina criminal law describes it as an unlawful killing of another through criminal negligence:
- Criminal negligence in South Carolina is defined as the reckless disregard of the safety of others. This has to be proven by the state beyond a reasonable doubt.
Punishment for involuntary manslaughter in South Carolina
Someone convicted of Involuntary Manslaughter is South Carolina can be sentenced to a prison sentence of up to five years, however there is no mandatory minimum. This means that someone can get a sentence of probation and serve no prison time.
If you have been charged with manslaughter and need a crime defense lawyer or a criminal defense lawyer in Rock hill, contact us.