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Overview of the voluntary manslaughter statute in Maryland

Manslaughter is the act of killing another human being in a way that it considered a less serious offense than murder. In Maryland, the offense can be either voluntary or involuntary manslaughter. However, according to Maryland laws, voluntary manslaughter means when a person kills another person and has been proved to have legally adequate provocation. That is also called heat-of-passion murder.

One of the most common examples of voluntary manslaughter is the conviction of murder in the case of a cheating spouse. For example, if a person enters a house and find the spouse involved in a sexual act with another person, that can spark a fit of rage and provoke the other spouse to kill the cheating spouse and the lover there and then. The law that would change murder to manslaughter is not permitted in Maryland. However, the state can decrease the severity of the charge from murder to manslaughter in the event of an imperfect self-defense.

In a self-defense case, the victim will try to save the victim's own life by using as much force as possible. In that case, the person's only aim is to be protected, and thus the malice required for murder is missing. While a "perfect" self-defense act won't acquit the person from the murder charge, a voluntary manslaughter can decrease the punishment from first- to second-degree murder, reducing the defendant's prison sentence.

The defendant might have to serve up to 10 years in prison, or up to two years in prison with a fine of $500. There is no time limit in the event of manslaughter and violent crimes like murder. That means that if a person killed someone else years ago, that person can be held liable at any time during that person's lifetime.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Maryland Voluntary Manslaughter Law," Accessed July 31, 2015

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Law Offices of
James N. Papirmeister, Esq.

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As Published in Washingtonian Magazine | Washington's Best Legal Minds | 2013