Voluntary Manslaughter is one of the most serious Violent Crimes an accused can face in the state of Pennsylvania. Voluntary Manslaughter is graded as a felony of the first degree and therefore punishable by up to 20 years in state prison and a maximum fine of $25,000. Defending Manslaughter charges Make sure to contact an experienced Violent Crimes attorney if you are being investigated for or have been charged with the crime of Voluntary Manslaughter.
The General Rule in regard to the charge of Voluntary Manslaughter is that a person who kills an individual (with intent) and without lawful justification commits voluntary manslaughter if at the time of the killing he is acting under a sudden and intense passion resulting from serious provocation by manslaughter charges:
(1) the person that was killed; or
(2) another person whom the actor endeavors to kill, but he negligently or accidentally causes the death of the individual killed. This statute is found in Title 18 section 2503 of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code.
Under the Crimes Code, a person is guilty of voluntary manslaughter if at the time of the killing he acted under a sudden and intense passion resulting from serious provocation by the victim Heat of passion. Heat of Passion includes emotions such as anger, rage, sudden resentment or terror, which renders an accused's mind incapable of reason. The government still must prove that the accused committed the voluntary voluntarily and with the requisite intent.
In the case of the Commonwealth vs. McKusker the higher courts found that psychiatric evidence is admissible as an aid in determining whether an accused acted in the heat of passion at the time of his offense (and is therefore guilty of the lesser crime of Voluntary Manslaughter as opposed to a more serious charge such as Third Degree Murder. It is only a natural and logical application of the orderly and authoritative development of the law of evidence that such expert testimony is permissible