Having three former prosecutors on our team gives us a strategic advantage when fighting the people prosecuting you.
Sometimes when someone dies at the hands of another person or because of someone else’s actions, murder is not the correct criminal charge. The person may be guilty of a lesser charge, such as voluntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, or involuntary manslaughter. Over the years, The Criminal Defense Team has successfully argued to juries that a murder charge should be reduced to a lesser charge.
We have argued that a man that beat his ex-wife over 14 times in the head with a ball-peen hammer until her skull fractured (on the day their divorce was final) was not guilty of attempted murder but instead of reckless homicide. He was out of prison in less than seven years following the trial, rather than the 50 years he was facing when he hired our team.
Another time we convinced a jury that a man accused of shooting his brother in the head with a gun and then beating his head with a baseball bat was not guilty of attempted murder but of the lowest-level felony, criminal recklessness. He received a two-and-a-half-year sentence vs. the 50-year sentence he was facing on the attempted murder charge.
This victory required very creative lawyering while maneuvering through an evidentiary minefield. Another client accused of murdering his three-year-old child was pleaded down to involuntary manslaughter and given no prison time. There are many more examples of The Criminal Defense Team utilizing Indiana’s criminal code to try to reach an outcome that will be less life-altering than murder.
Each lesser offense has its own set of elements. Choosing whether to seek a lesser offense, dismissal, or not-guilty verdict takes skill and experience. To even be in a position to argue for a lesser offense, the attorney needs to have the skills to determine the proper strategy, including how much information to reveal to the prosecutor and how much to wait until trial.
Our legal expertise and constant brainstorming sessions have been the catalyst to strategies that have been completely unexpected and successful. Having a team of experienced attorneys is instrumental when trying to obtain the best possible outcome in any case, but especially those involving the death of another person.
Call (317) 687-8326 Now to Speak to an Attorney
The Criminal Defense Team is uniquely qualified to protect your freedom and interests. We believe in taking swift, aggressive action to out-maneuver the prosecution and build a strong defense. We’ve done it for thousands of clients, and we can do it for you.
We defend clients in Hamilton County, Marion County, Johnson County, Hancock County, Shelby County, Boone County, Hendricks County, and counties throughout Indiana. We can help you as well.
What Is Manslaughter?
Manslaughter falls under the broad category of homicide. Homicide refers to the unlawful killing of a human being. There are different types of homicide charges a person could face, depending on the circumstances of the offense.
The two main types of manslaughter are:
Voluntary Manslaughter – An individual who intentionally or knowingly, while acting under sudden heat:
- Kills another person; or
- Kills a fetus.
A murder charge lessens to a voluntary manslaughter charge if the mitigating factor of sudden heat exists. For example, two people get into an argument, and one person attacks the other, causing them to die. The attacker did not plan the death; however, they were aware their actions could lead to death and continued with it anyway.
Involuntary Manslaughter – A person who kills someone else while attempting to commit or committing:
- A Level 5 or Level 6 felony, posing an inherent risk of serious bodily injury;
- Battery; or
- A Class A misdemeanor, posing an inherent risk of serious bodily injury.
The offense also refers to a person who kills a fetus while attempting to commit or committing:
- A Level 5 or Level 6 felony that poses an inherent risk of serious bodily injury;
- A Class A misdemeanor that poses an inherent risk of serious bodily injury;
- Battery; or
- A violation of the Operating A Vehicle While Intoxicated statutes.
The main difference between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter is intent. Although voluntary manslaughter involves killing another person, there was no thought or planning behind it. The defendant acted in the heat of the moment. On the other hand, involuntary manslaughter is typically the result of an accident. For example, a drunk driver who causes another person’s death in an accident could face an involuntary manslaughter charge.
Reckless Homicide – Someone who recklessly kills a human being. Criminal recklessness occurs when a person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly exhibits actions that pose a substantial risk of bodily injury to someone else. Someone who commits reckless homicide had no intent to kill anyone, but they were aware that they could hurt someone and ignored the risk of their actions.
Sentencing for Manslaughter and Reckless Homicide
Manslaughter and reckless homicide are felonies in Indiana. Indiana follows a sentencing guideline depending on the level of the offense and the circumstances of the crime. The court can use this guideline to determine an appropriate amount of prison time and fines to issue to the defendant.
Involuntary manslaughter is a Level 5 felony. The penalty is:
- One to six years in prison; and
- A maximum of a $10,000 fine.
Voluntary manslaughter is a Level 2 felony. The penalty is:
- 10 to 30 years in prison; and
- A maximum of a $10,000 fine.
Reckless homicide is a Level 5 felony. The penalty is:
- One to six years in prison; and
- A maximum of a $10,000 fine.
There are residual consequences you could face if convicted of manslaughter or reckless homicide. Not only is there the potential of serving time in prison, but there are also daily challenges you might face after your release. Even if the case gets dismissed or a jury enters a not guilty verdict, the stigma of one of these criminal charges could follow you for the rest of your life. It can affect your family and relationships and ruin your reputation.
Many convicted felons have trouble finding a good job after getting out of prison. Job applications typically include the question about prior felony convictions. Even if you don’t have to answer that question, a thorough background check will uncover your felony offense and prison sentence. Landlords and property managers also perform background checks and might refuse to rent to someone convicted of reckless homicide or manslaughter.
The victim’s surviving family members have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit against you. Besides facing criminal charges, you could also face civil penalties. Civil cases involve a monetary award. The family members could file this lawsuit for financial compensation covering their losses, such as funeral expenses and the pain and suffering they endured due to your actions.
Defenses Commonly Used In Manslaughter Cases
The Criminal Defense Team knows the challenges you’re up against and how scary it is to face possible imprisonment. Your freedom and future are in jeopardy. We want to create the best possible defense strategy to get the charges dropped or at least reduced for a lesser sentence.
There’s a range of defenses we might be able to use depending on the circumstances associated with your case. We will keep your best interests in mind and choose the option that could reach your legal goals. You can depend on The Criminal Defense Team to protect your rights and fight for your freedom.
The most common defenses against reckless homicide, voluntary manslaughter, and involuntary manslaughter charges are:
- Accident – Accidents often occur without recklessness or planned actions. We would have to argue that you did not intend to kill the victim, and you were unaware that your actions could cause someone’s death.
- Self-defense – Sometimes, it’s necessary to defend yourself against another person physically. This could be an effective defense if there’s evidence that you were forced to protect yourself from injury or death by using reasonable force.
- Defending another person – You also have the right to protect someone else from physical harm or the threat of bodily injury or death. The victim might have gotten violent with your children, and you felt the need to protect them from getting hurt.
- False accusation – Whether you were in the wrong place at the wrong time or someone accused you as an act of revenge, we would gather evidence that shows you couldn’t have committed the crime. Forensic evidence, such as DNA, is vital in cases like this. If your DNA isn’t on the victim or around the crime scene, it would be challenging for the prosecutor to prove you’re guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Mistaken identity – Eyewitnesses don’t always identify the correct perpetrator. If the crime happened at night, there wasn’t good lighting, or they were far away from the crime scene, they might not have gotten a good look at the person. We could use circumstances like these to discredit them as a witness.
- Insufficient evidence – The prosecutor must meet the burden of proof to convict you of the charges you’re facing. However, if they don’t have enough evidence to prove your guilt, we might be able to get your case dismissed.
- Violation of your rights – There are times when officers don’t follow legal procedures during an arrest, booking, searches, and questioning. When law enforcement violates your rights, that evidence could be inadmissible. For example, if an officer searched your home without a warrant and obtained evidence associated with the crime, that’s known as illegal search and seizure. We could file a motion to suppress, so the prosecutor cannot present that evidence in court.
- Alibi – An alibi establishes that a person was somewhere else at the time of the crime. If you have a solid alibi, we could use that to prove you weren’t able to kill the victim because you were nowhere near the scene. Video surveillance, cell phone records, and receipts or credit card transactions are excellent examples of evidence.
A successful defense could mean the difference between imprisonment and freedom. At The Criminal Defense Team, we know the complexities of a criminal case and how to poke holes in the prosecutor’s theories. We have multiple attorneys on our team who are former prosecutors. That gives us an advantage while we’re strategizing to determine the best options to get your charges dropped or the sentence reduced.
Contact The Criminal Defense Team
When you hire The Criminal Defense Team, we will investigate the circumstances of the crime and determine if the prosecutor has a strong case. Sometimes the evidence against a defendant is sufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In situations like this, the best option might be to enter a plea deal. However, there are times when it’s better to take the case to trial if we believe we could get a not guilty verdict that exonerates our client of the charges.
With over 120 years of combined legal experience and more than 400 jury trials, The Criminal Defense Team has the experience, knowledge, and resources to defend you in court successfully. Many attorneys prefer plea agreements to avoid going to trial, but we’re not afraid of a fight. We have a reputation for reaching favorable outcomes in our clients’ cases, and we’re prepared to do the same for you.
Five members of our team hold the title “Board-Certified Criminal Law Specialist.” We work closely together to protect our clients’ rights, freedom, and future. You can depend on us to stay by your side from start to finish of your case. You won’t be alone during this frightening and stressful experience.
If you’re facing charges for manslaughter or reckless homicide, call The Criminal Defense Team today at (317) 687-8326. We can meet with you for an initial consultation to review the facts of your case and determine if we can represent you.