There are two main types of manslaughter: voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter.
Voluntary manslaughter is when one person kills another person during a sudden fight, in the heat of passion, or in unreasonable self-defense. In order to be guilty of voluntary manslaughter you have to have:
- Intentionally killed another person with no legal excuse for doing so, or
- Acted with a conscious disregard for human life
The difference between voluntary manslaughter and murder is whether or not you acted with malice aforethought.
Malice aforethought is when you act with an intent to kill by expressing malice or a disregard for human life. When malice aforethought is present, it is murder.
Involuntary manslaughter is when one person kills another person unintentionally with the following elements:
- A California infraction or misdemeanor, or a crime that is not an inherently dangerous felony was committed that led to involuntary manslaughter
- A lawful act was done in an unlawful manner
- The crime was committed with criminal negligence
- The actions caused another person’s death