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What is Manslaughter?

Updated on February 1, 2010

Manslaughter, in law, the crime of killing someone without malice or cold-blooded intent. It is a less serious kind of homicide than murder and is punished less severely. The law distinguishes between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter, or, as they are called in some states, first and second degree manslaughter. Voluntary, or first degree, manslaughter is the more serious offense. In it, as in murder, killing is intentional. It differs from murder in that it is not cold-blooded, the victim having enraged the killer by certain acts, such as unprovoked blows upon him or his family, which the law recognizes can cause blind rage in a reasonable man. Involuntary manslaughter is unintentional, but not purely accidental, killing. The killing of a pedestrian by a negligent driver who could have avoided the accident if he had been careful is a common form of involuntary manslaughter.

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