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Crime of Passion Law South Dakota

The state of South Dakota classifies criminal homicide as murder, manslaughter, excusable homicide, justifiable homicide, and vehicular homicide, among others. The act of manslaughter is governed by the crime of passion law and is further subdivided into voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter. But what exactly is the crime of passion law? And more importantly, what is a crime of passion?

The Crime of Passion Law in South Dakota

A crime of passion occurs when there is no intent to kill someone, and the murder happens accidentally or unintentionally in the heat of passion. Such homicides are caused by provocation and are generally excusable in the eyes of the law. But if the courts must excuse such crimes, no weapons may be involved during the incident, nor must the defendant have taken any undue advantage of the situation. Also, the defendant shouldn’t commit the crime with any cruel intentions.

Punishments for Crime of Passion in South Dakota

First-Degree manslaughter or crime of passion is considered a Class C felony in South Dakota and is punishable by imposing fines of up to $50,000 as well as life sentences. In general, however, the first-degree manslaughter is considered as a lesser included second- or third-degree murder.

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Differences Between Murder and Manslaughter

Both murders, as well as manslaughter, are serious criminal offenses and Class C felonies in many states across the United States, including South Dakota. While both offenses are unlawful killings, the critical difference between the two is the offender’s state of mind when he or she committed the crime. Murders are generally intentional and are committed with malice. Manslaughters, however, don’t involve malicious intent and usually occur accidentally or in the heat of the moment.

One other significant difference between the two is the way the law sees both the offenses as well as the offenders. The law usually considers people who commit the crime of manslaughter as less capable than those who commit murders. The reason for this may be primarily due to the lack of intent.

Defenses for Manslaughter in The State of South Dakota

A person accused of manslaughter in the state of South Dakota has several defenses he can come up with to present to the courts. Some of these defenses are even similar to those involved in actual murders. These defenses can help prove that the defendant didn’t commit the murder, or that he or she wasn’t present at the scene of the crime when it occurred.

The defenses the offender chooses to present in the courts depend on the pieces of evidence and circumstances of the case. But in general, the defendant can give the following defenses to clear his or her name:

  • Innocence
    Innocence is probably the best defense that the defendant can present to the courts. The prosecutors must prove that the defendant committed the crime. Until then, the defendants are innocent. To defend against the prosecution’s accusations, the defendant can claim an alibi or use some other means to attack the prosecution’s pieces of evidence. If the jury finds these defenses to be reasonable enough, they may consider acquitting the defendant.
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  • Self Defense
    The defendant can also claim that he or she committed the offense in the act of self-defense. Self-defense claims are usually of two types. Perfect self-defense claims are those in which there was a reasonable amount of force used to protect the defendant’s life. In such cases, the defendant did no wrong and may even get a chance to be acquitted.

    In the second case, that is, in the case of an imperfect self-defense claim, the defendant believed that he or she had reason to use deadly force. In this situation, there was some bad behavior on the part of the defendant, and thus, it would be hard to prove that the defendant is innocent.
  • Insanity
    At the time of the incident, if it can be proved that the defendant was insane, or if the defendant meets all the legal requirements for insanity at the time the incident occurred, then the judicial system could let the defendant go. Generally, most judicial systems see insanity as the inability to understand one’s actions or its consequences, and thus, the person can’t distinguish between right and wrong.
  • Intoxication
    If the person were intoxicated during the time the incident occurred, it still wouldn’t prove his innocence. Of course, unless the intoxication was involuntary or if the defendant was drugged. If the defendant is charged for murder, then the defense of intoxication may be enough to bring down the sentences to that of manslaughter. However, this is not the case when the defendant is charged for manslaughter.

Thus, manslaughter or crime of passion may occur voluntarily or involuntarily. But there are still many ways to defend against such charges. The key here is to hire an experienced advocate who can help examine the pieces of evidence thoroughly and present them to the courts in such a way that they can win the case.

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