Understanding Involuntary Manslaughter in Georgia: What You Need to Know
Get the facts about involuntary manslaughter laws in Georgia. Learn about the legal definitions, penalties, and how The Waltman Firm can help you navigate this complex issue.
Dealing With Involuntary Manslaughter Charges in Georgia
Facing charges related to the loss of another human life can be an overwhelming experience. However, the specific charge that will be brought against you for doing so depends on the specifics of the incident. Taking another person’s life may be involuntary Manslaughter if there was no “malice aforethought.” That is, the act was not premeditated.
In Georgia, the distinction between voluntary Manslaughter and involuntary Manslaughter plays a pivotal role in the legal proceedings. This guide sheds light on the offense of involuntary Manslaughter, helping you comprehend its legal intricacies and potential consequences.
If you or your loved one is charged with involuntary Manslaughter in Georgia, it helps to understand the legal specifics of the crime. It could help you understand the next steps and decisions to take. Contacting a skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as possible is also a good idea.
What is Involuntary Manslaughter According to Georgia Law?
In Georgia, involuntary Manslaughter transpires when an individual causes the death of another person without the intent to do so. This can occur for various reasons, including carelessness, criminal negligence, self-defense, or reckless conduct.
According to the Georgia Code on Involuntary Manslaughter, there are two primary scenarios leading to involuntary Manslaughter:
- Involuntary Manslaughter in the Commission of an Unlawful Act (Felony): This occurs when a person unintentionally causes the death of another while engaging in an illegal activity other than a felony. It is classified as a felony.
- Involuntary Manslaughter in the Commission of a Lawful Act in an Unlawful Manner (Misdemeanor): If a person causes someone’s death without intent while performing a lawful act but in a manner that could result in death or great bodily harm, it is considered a misdemeanor.
Penalties for Involuntary Manslaughter
The severity of the criminal penalties hinges on whether the charge is classified as a felony or misdemeanor:
- Felony Involuntary Manslaughter: According to The Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 16-5-3, if you are convicted of felony involuntary manslaughter, you will be punished by imprisonment for a minimum of one year and maximum of ten years.
- Misdemeanor Involuntary Manslaughter: Meanwhile, if you are convicted of misdemeanor involuntary manslaughter, you can be required to pay fines of up to $1000 and serve jail time of not more than one year.
- Additional consequences of a conviction may involve probation, community service, and the temporary or permanent loss of certain civil rights, such as voting, holding public office, and firearm possession.
The Legal Process: Steps in an Involuntary Manslaughter Case
Similar to other criminal charges in Georgia, an involuntary manslaughter case involves several key stages:
- Investigation and arrest: Law enforcement may arrest you based on reports or conduct further investigations before making an arrest. It is crucial to contact a lawyer promptly in such situations.
- Filing Charges: You will be formally charged once there is sufficient evidence against you to sustain a case. In involuntary manslaughter cases, charges are typically filed through an “information” rather than an indictment. With an “information,” the prosecutor charges you directly without the involvement of a grand jury.
- Preliminary Hearing: A preliminary hearing is held to determine if there is probable cause to support the prosecution’s case against you. However, posting bail may waive this right.
- Arraignment: This is the stage at which you will be read the charges against you and allowed to enter a plea. Not-guilty pleas are common, often accompanied by a written waiver of arraignment prepared by defense attorneys. If you enter a guilty or nolo contendere (no contest), the case will be resolved, and you will be sentenced without a trial. But if you plead not guilty, the case will proceed to trial.
- Pretrial Process: This preparatory phase ensures the trial goes smoothly. During the pretrial process, your attorney prepares your witnesses and other relevant materials for the trial. They may also file pretrial motions requesting the court to take certain decisions on issues relating to the case before the trial starts.
- Trial: Here, both sides present their arguments, witnesses, and evidence, leading to a judge or jury verdict.
- Sentencing: A guilty verdict results in sentencing. A not-guilty verdict concludes the case, and you cannot be prosecuted on the exact charges again. Where the jury cannot come to a unanimous decision, the case ends in a mistrial. In that case, the prosecution can decide to retry you.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations refers to the time limit prosecutors have to initiate legal proceedings after a crime has been committed. The Georgia Statute of Limitations for Criminal Offenses requires prosecution to initiate legal proceedings within four years of involuntary Manslaughter against a person older than 18. When an unlawful act is committed against someone younger than 18, this period extends to 7 years.
If charged as a misdemeanor, involuntary Manslaughter must be prosecuted within two years of the commission of the crime. The statute of limitation does not count while:
- the accused is not a resident of the state;
- the perpetrator is unknown, or the crime is undiscovered
How The Waltman Firm Can Help
You may ask yourself, “What is different about Waltman Firm?” Well, many things make us stand out. We are adept at dealing with criminal charges. We know how to approach different felony charges without worsening the situation.
We also believe in constitutional rights for all and are passionate about the representation we provide. We are honest with our clients and present you with your most viable options. Our communication is clear and timely.
Finally, we can enter favorable negotiations with the prosecution on your behalf and prepare a solid defense legal strategy for your case. Simply put, you have a solid legal defense team with us as your attorneys.
The Criminal Defense Attorney You Need
The repercussions of an involuntary manslaughter conviction can be severe. Your reputation is at risk, and you may lose several future opportunities due to your public criminal record.
Your best shot at living a normal life again may be consulting a skilled murder defense attorney in Marietta, Georgia. At the Waltman Firm, we handle felony and misdemeanor cases. Contact us today for insightful consultations tailored to your case.