What is the Law on manslaughter in Hawaii and what are the Punishments for it?
The criminal homicide laws in the state of Hawaii are classified into the following charges:
- 1st-degree murder
- 2nd-degree murder
- Voluntary manslaughter or manslaughter
- Negligent homicide
The key distinction between manslaughter and murder
Although both manslaughter and murder deal with the unlawful killing of an individual, the severity of manslaughter as a criminal offense is lesser because there is no intent to kill, or absence of an element of malice, or cause severe physical injury to the victim. Murder refers to the illegal killing of an individual with malice in a majority of states in the United States. On the other hand, manslaughter is killing another person unlawfully without malice.
Voluntary Manslaughter in Hawaii
The criminal offense of manslaughter is further classified into voluntary and involuntary manslaughter in several American states. These criminal offenses are referred to as negligent homicide and manslaughter in Hawaii.
What does the law prohibit?
- Causing another individual to commit suicide, or
- Causing the death of a person because of reckless behavior
Punishments for manslaughter
Considered as a felony of type Class A, manslaughter can be penalized by a maximum prison term of 20 years.
Lowering murder charges to manslaughter
While a 1st- or 2nd-degree murder charge is being prosecuted, the crime severity can be brought down to manslaughter from murder. It is possible when the offender was extremely disturbed emotionally or mentally when a person was killed and there is a proper explanation for the same.
However, such killing should have been a reasonable course of action considering that the offender was emotionally or mentally disturbed and any reasonable person would have behaved in the same way under a similar circumstance.
Defenses available to manslaughter charges in Hawaii
- Actual innocence
Involuntary manslaughter in Hawaii
1st-degree negligent homicide: Leads to the death of:
- A user who is vulnerable when a vehicle is operated negligently, or
- Some other individual while a vehicle is operated by the offender who is drunk or has consumed drugs
- 2nd-degree negligent homicide: Leads to the death of:
- A user who is vulnerable while a vehicle is operated in a way, which pertains to simple negligence, or
- Some other individual while a vehicle is operated negligently
3rd-degree negligent homicide: When a person dies while a vehicle is operated in a manner, which is considered as simple negligence.
“Simple Negligence” defined
An individual may exhibit “simple negligence” through his/her conduct, a potential outcome of his/her own conduct, or the attendant circumstances.
- An individual operates with simple negligence pertaining to their conduct if the individual is familiar with risk and yet involves in that conduct.
- An individual behaves with simple negligence pertaining to the surrounding circumstance when he/she should know that there is an inherent risk in such circumstances.
- An individual behaves with simple negligence when the persona acts negligently even he/she should be aware of a risk to produce that outcome.
These users comprise pedestrians who are present lawfully on the public highway or street, emergency and road work working on a public highway or street, people in wheelchairs, or people riding mopeds and bicycles.
Simple negligence vs. negligence
An individual is said to have acted with simple negligence when he/she fails to do or does something, which creates a risk for others and the person should be aware of the same.
On the other hand, a person is said to have acted with negligence if he/she fails to do or does something that they are aware of posing an unjustifiable and substantial risk to other people.
Manslaughter Punishments in Hawaii
- A 3rd-degree negligent homicide is regarded as a misdemeanor offense in Hawaii.
- A 2nd-degree negligent homicide falls under a felony of Class C,
- A 1st-degree negligent homicide is considered a felony of Class B.