Crimes of Passion In Pennsylvania: Voluntary Manslaughter

man with gun standing in front of cheating wife and partner in bed

Valentine’s Day is upon us and that marks the season of love. However, not all stories of passion end with happily ever after. In fact, some end in crime. Consider this murder-suicide.

In 2012, Kansas City Chiefs football player Jovan Belcher shot and killed his then-girlfriend, Kassandra Perkins, following a series of arguments about attending a concert without her. Belcher killed Perkins in front of his mother, and then, drove to the Chiefs’ practice facility where he killed himself.

Or the all too often story of husband catches wife in bed with another man, resulting in a murder.

While these seem like crazy incidents, these situations actually occur more frequently than you may think. Known as crimes of passion or heat of passion homicide, these crimes describe killings that happen as a result of a provocation that impacts the defendant’s judgments. But what constitutes a crime of passion is dependent on the situation. The criminal defense attorneys of Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano explain.

Pennsylvania Crimes of Passion

Under Pennsylvania law, there must be an objective review of the provocative circumstances in that the act of provocation must be one that would cause such an emotional or passionate reaction to any reasonable person.

Should the person who committed the crime actually had a period of time to cool off between the act of provocation and the homicide, Pennsylvania criminal law disqualifies the individual from a voluntary manslaughter charge.

Should the court be able to find that enough time passed, the defendant may be charged with murder.

But the lack of a cool-down period is not the only way to be charged with a crime of passion. If a defendant committed homicide based on an unreasonable belief–one that meant that the defendant had to use a mistaken belief that he or she needed to use deadly force against the victim in order to be protected–the defendant can still be charged with voluntary manslaughter. However, if it is found that the defendant escalates the situation, the state can pursue the murder charge.

Charges To Crimes of Passion: Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano

In Pennsylvania, voluntary manslaughter is a first-degree felony that carries a conviction with a prison sentence of up to 20 years. If the defendant has two or more convictions for a violent crime, a mandatory minimum sentence will be imposed.

In cases of involuntary manslaughter, the defendant can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor which carries a prison sentence of up to five years.

If you have been charged with a crime of passion, know that there are options. You can claim self-defense or accidental killing. Depending on the facts of your case, you may have additional options.

Crimes of Passion in Pennsylvania

The stakes are high when it comes to crimes of passion and manslaughter charges, which is why it’s best to arrange a consultation with Northeast Pennsylvania criminal defense attorneys. Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano has a well-earned reputation throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania for carefully investigating such serious cases. Whether it’s reviewing the initial arrest report to interviewing witnesses or consulting with experts in their field, our attorneys will work tirelessly on every single murder and manslaughter case. Contact us today.

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