One of the most serious Violent Crimes an accused can be charged with is the crime of Voluntary Manslaughter. In order to be convicted of Violent Crimes such as Voluntary Manslaughter, the government must prove that the accused kills another individual without lawful justification and at the time of the killing the accused is acting under a sudden and intense passion resulting from serious provocation. Practical approach to Homicide cases This is called acting under Heat of Passion. In order to be found guilty of Voluntary Manslaughter the accused must take an intentional or voluntary act in bringing about the death of another. Specifically, Voluntary manslaughter involves the specific intent to kill but, by reason of passion and provocation, without any legal malice.
In order to be found guilty of Voluntary Manslaughter, the government must prove that the defendant had the intent to kill the victim as a result of acting under a heat of passion. In the case of the Commonwealth vs. Pitts, the trial court’s refusal to charge the jury concerning the element of intent necessary to convict of voluntary manslaughter was error. The term “voluntary manslaughter” contemplates an intentional or voluntary act on the part of the defendant. In Commonwealth v. Moore, the Court stated “that where there is a nonmalicious felonious killing with a specific intent either to kill or to seriously injure, it is voluntary manslaughter.” In Commonwealth v. Campbell, the court again speaking of voluntary manslaughter stated “that it is an intentional killing which is perpetrated while under the influence of overriding passion, . . .” this Court indicated that a necessary element of both murder in the first degree and voluntary manslaughter is the specific intent to kill.
The Mason court held, Manslaughter therefore, that a jury instruction on voluntary manslaughter couched only in terms of lack of malice and of an overriding passion is inadequate without an accompanying explanation of intent. Com. v. Mason. It is imperative that you consult with an experienced Chester County Violent Crimes attorney if you are being investigated for Voluntary Manslaughter.