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Black's Law Dictionary defines manslaughter as an unlawful killing of another person without malice aforethought. The crime of manslaughter was developed as an alternative to murder and its attendant death penalty for homicides that were not as extreme and that were explainable. Most jurisdictions distinguish between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. In general, voluntary manslaughter is an intentional killing commited under circumstances that mitigate the homicide, although they do not justify it.
Involuntary manslaughter consists of "criminally negligent homicide" and "unlawful act manslaughter". A typical example of criminally negligent homicide is where a death results from the negligent operation of an automobile. The standard form of the offense exists where the defendant has killed someone as the consequence of his or her gross negligence or recklessness. Unlawful act manslaughter occurs when someone dies as the result of the defendant doing an unlawful act, usually a misdemeanor.
Voluntary manslaughter is a murder that is reduced in degree by the presence of provocation that caused the murder to be committed in the heat of passion. People v Townes 391 Mich 578 (1974)
CJI2d 16.8 Michigan Criminal Jury Instructions - Elements of the Crime
(1) [The defendant is charged with the crime of / You may also consider the lesser charge of] voluntary manslaughter. To prove this charge, the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
(2) First, that the defendant caused the death of [name deceased], that is, that [name deceased] died as a result of [state alleged act causing death].
(3) Second, that the defendant had one of these three states of mind: [he / she] intended to kill, or [he / she] intended to do great bodily harm to [name deceased], or [he / she] knowingly created a very high risk of death or great bodily harm knowing that death or such harm would be the likely result of [his / her] actions.
[(4) Third, that the defendant caused the death without lawful excuse or justification.]
Penalty under Michigan Codified Law (Statutory law)
Manslaughter—Any person who shall commit the crime of manslaughter shall be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison, not more than 15 years or by fine of not more than $7,500 dollars, or both, at the discretion of the court.
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