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The Spodek Law Group understands how delicate high-profile cases can be, and has a strong track record of getting positive outcomes. Our lawyers service a clientele that is nationwide. With offices in both LA and NYC, and cases all across the country - Spodek Law Group is a top tier law firm.

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New York Manslaughter

By Spodek Law Group | October 18, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 19, 2023)

Last Updated on: 19th October 2023, 08:00 pm

New York Manslaughter Law: An In-Depth Look

Manslaughter is a serious criminal charge in New York, carrying potentially lengthy prison sentences. This article provides an in-depth look at New York manslaughter law, examining the different degrees, penalties, and defenses.

What is Manslaughter in New York?

Manslaughter involves causing the death of another person, without the intent to kill them. There are two degrees of manslaughter in New York:

  • First Degree Manslaughter: Causing someone’s death while intending to seriously injure them, acting under extreme emotional disturbance, performing a late-term abortion, or putting a child under 11 at risk of injury leading to their death. This is a Class B felony.
  • Second Degree Manslaughter: Recklessly causing someone’s death. This is a Class C felony.

Manslaughter differs from murder, which requires the intent to kill. Manslaughter often results from recklessness, negligence, or acting in the heat of passion.

First Degree Manslaughter

First degree manslaughter is charged when[1]:

  • Someone intends to seriously injure another person, but ends up causing their death. For example, if two people get into a fight and one person shoves the other, causing them to fall, hit their head, and die.
  • Someone intends to kill another person while acting under extreme emotional disturbance. This is often called a “crime of passion” killing. For instance, if someone comes home and finds their spouse cheating, then kills their spouse while overwhelmed by emotion.
  • Performing an abortion on a woman more than 24 weeks pregnant, resulting in her death.
  • Putting a child under 11 at risk of serious injury, leading to their death. For example, leaving a young child home alone near dangerous objects.

First degree manslaughter is a Class B felony, punishable by up to 25 years in prison[2].

Defenses to First Degree Manslaughter

There are several potential defenses to first degree manslaughter charges:

  • Lack of intent to seriously injure: The defendant can argue they did not intend to seriously injure the victim, it was an accident[1].
  • Cooling off period: For “crime of passion” killings, the defendant can argue a cooling off period occurred where they regained control before killing the victim[3].
  • Involuntary intoxication: The defendant can argue they were unaware of the risk to others due to involuntary intoxication[4].
  • Self-defense: Arguing the defendant was protecting themselves from harm by the victim.

Second Degree Manslaughter

Second degree manslaughter is charged when someone recklessly causes another person’s death[5]. Recklessness involves consciously disregarding a substantial and unjustifiable risk.

Examples include[2]:

  • Playing an extremely reckless game with a loaded gun, resulting in accidentally shooting someone.
  • Getting into a bar fight and severely beating someone, leading to their death.
  • Performing dangerous stunts in a vehicle, causing a fatal accident.

Second degree manslaughter is a Class C felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison[5].

Defenses to Second Degree Manslaughter

There are several potential defenses to second degree manslaughter charges:

  • Lack of recklessness: The defendant can argue they were not aware of the risk to others and did not consciously disregard it[4].
  • Involuntary intoxication: The defendant can argue they were unaware of the risk solely due to involuntary intoxication[4].
  • Self-defense: Arguing the defendant was protecting themselves from harm by the victim.
  • Accident: The defendant can argue the death was a pure accident and there was no recklessness involved.

Manslaughter is a very serious felony charge in New York. The penalties can completely devastate someone’s life. It is critical to retain an experienced New York manslaughter defense attorney immediately if facing these charges. A knowledgeable lawyer can fully investigate the case, identify defenses, negotiate with the prosecution, and represent the defendant in court. This provides the best chance at an acquittal or minimized charges and penalties. Don’t leave your future to chance – get experienced legal help right away.

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