What is the Law on Manslaughter in North Carolina and What is the Punishment for It?
Manslaughter is the killing of a person without the intention to kill or without having ill-will. It is causing accidental death. While murder is causing the death of a person deliberately, manslaughter is inadvertent death. Hence, murder and manslaughter are treated differently by the law. The punishment for manslaughter would be lesser than the one for murder. The definition of the law and the quantum of punishment vary from state to state.
Manslaughter in North Carolina
In the state of North Carolina, Articles 14-18 of the North Carolina General Statutes defines the law related to manslaughter. The law outlines the punishment for manslaughter. According to the law, there are two types of acts of manslaughter. One is voluntary manslaughter and the other involuntary manslaughter. The act does not explicitly define what manslaughter is. The general and conventional definitions of manslaughter are considered for the interpretation of this act.
A manslaughter is an act committed by a person that leads to the death of another person, where the death happens accidentally or without an evil motive or intention to kill someone. However voluntary manslaughter can be applied to a case even if the act of killing someone was intentional.
As per the law in North Carolina, if a person kills another person intentionally, but there was a provocation leading to the killing. Such acts are known as crimes of passion. Eg: a man killing another man after catching him red-handed in a compromising situation with his wife.
Involuntary manslaughter is where the death occurs not due to an intentional attack, but due to negligence or recklessness. For example, an electrician recklessly leaving live wires exposed while working causing someone’s death is involuntary manslaughter.
The North Carolina law also defines vehicular manslaughter. This is applicable for cases where there is a vehicle accident and there is no intention to kill. For example, causing an accident while being distracted by the driver using a mobile is a case of vehicular manslaughter.
Fast driving and inability to control the vehicle leading to death and drunken driving are also cases of vehicular manslaughter. The punishment would depend on the circumstances, whether the accused was under the influence of drugs/alcohol, past record of convictions or license cancellation, etc. This is decided by the judge based on the evidence from the trial.
Manslaughter Punishments in North Carolina
As per the North Carolina laws, there are two types of manslaughter – voluntary and involuntary. Since both these acts are different the punishment under the law is also different.
Voluntary manslaughter is considered a more serious offense. It is considered under the law as a Class D felony. If convicted, it would lead to imprisonment for a minimum of 51 months in prison and can be for a maximum of 64 months in prison.
Involuntary manslaughter is considered a Class F felony under the North Carolina law. If convicted, one would be imprisoned for a minimum of 20 months and can be imprisoned for a maximum of 41 months.
Vehicular manslaughter under the law can be either a misdemeanor, felony, or an aggravated felony depending on the circumstances of the case. If treated as a misdemeanor it would be a Class A1 misdemeanor and can lead to a fine and/or imprisonment for up to 150 days. If it is treated as a felony, then it would be a Class D felony and can lead to imprisonment for 38 to 120 months. If treated as an aggravated felony, it would lead to a fine and/or imprisonment for 64 to 160 months.