Manslaughter (Voluntary & Involuntary) Laws in Las Vegas, Nevada

Manslaughter is another form of homicide. In the most basic terms, manslaughter is the killing of another human being, intentionally or not, and we will explain here what manslaughter means in detail and how criminal defense lawyers differentiates it from murder.


Definition and Penalties

Nevada law classifies manslaughter into three categories: voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter and vehicular manslaughter.

Voluntary manslaughter

Voluntary manslaughter (or non-negligent manslaughter) is part of violent crime and occurs when a person kills another person with the intent to kill or cause grievous bodily harm.  While there are similarities to murder, some factors make the defendant less culpable for their actions.

The state of mind or mens rea

The defendant may act normally before the act, but circumstances like provocation or events that heavily affect the normal thinking process of the person may have affected their decision-making skills. For example, someone was provoked or found their lover in bed with someone else, ending with their intended victim dying from their actions or the injuries they suffered.

Cannot have any premeditation or deliberation

The defendant must have no prior plans for carrying out malicious acts against their victim. This is an important component when deciding if a case is murder or voluntary manslaughter because murder involves the decision with the intent to kill the victim while voluntary manslaughter happens because the defendant killed a person while at the mercy of their mental or emotional state.

Time is also important when distinguishing murder from voluntary manslaughter. If the defendant has been allowed to cool-off even for one second, it would be logical to assume that he is now in control of their emotions, so any act of killing after they have cooled-off is now deliberate, and will be classified as murder.


The defendant may have felt that his or someone’s life is in danger so they resorted to acting in self-defense to protect themselves or others from a perceived threat. They may be only intending to cause bodily harm or intending to kill the alleged aggressor.

Voluntary manslaughter carries the following penalties for a category B felony:

  • 1 to 10 years in a state prison;
  • A maximum of $10,000 in fines.


Involuntary manslaughter

Involuntary manslaughter is the act of killing someone without the conscious deliberation of doing harm or killing another person. It is classified further into:

Constructive manslaughter

The defendant commits an unlawful dangerous act resulting in death, like speeding or disregarding safety rules that protect human life. The consent of the victim will not prevent an act from being unlawful.

Criminally Negligent Manslaughter

Actions that cause the death of another person even when doing the act within the boundaries of the law. There should also be reasonable belief that a normal person in such circumstances should have noticed it, or they were unwilling to do anything about it.

Involuntary manslaughter is a category D felony, and thus the penalties for involuntary manslaughter are:

  • 1 to 4 years in state prison;
  • May have an additional $5,000 in fines.


Vehicular Manslaughter in Las Vegas

Nevada legislature separates vehicular manslaughter from voluntary manslaughter, and defines that it is:

“A person who, while driving or in actual physical control of any vehicle, proximately causes the death of another person through an act or omission that constitutes simple negligence.”

This also includes acts when the defendant intentionally violates traffic regulations that instead of receiving lighter charges for traffic violations, they instead receive vehicular manslaughter charges.

Vehicular manslaughter is a misdemeanor and the penalties for vehicular manslaughter are:

  • Driver’s license suspended for a year;
  • A maximum of six months imprisonment;
  • Fines reaching up to $1,000.


Federal Charge of Manslaughter

When charged by the federal court with manslaughter it can carry more potential jail time. 1 to 15 years for voluntary manslaughter and 1 to 8 years for involuntary manslaughter.


Defenses used in manslaughter charges

A Nevada criminal defense lawyer usually use the following defenses for manslaughter:

  • The defendant had no intent  to kill the victim or their real reason when harming the victim is to cause bodily harm.
  • An accident happened even though it looks like the defendant is at fault.
  • The defendant was provoked by the victim that they have lost control of their emotions.
  • The defendant claims it was self-defense that caused the death. This is only accepted as a defense if there is a reasonable and justifiable reason for the act.


Getting an attorney for manslaughter charges

It might not carry the same penalties as murder, but the penalties are harsh nonetheless. Don’t hesitate to contact a  criminal defense attorney immediately if any of these instances happened to you or someone else you know.