Aggressive Manslaughter Defense

Any killing of another human being is a homicide, but homicides can result in different criminal charges, depending on the state of mind of the person who commits the homicide. Capital murder, murder in the first degree, and murder in the second degree in Kansas all involve an alleged offender intentionally killing another person, and Kansas Statute § 21-5202(h) defines acting “intentionally,” or “with intent,” as an alleged offender’s “conscious objective or desire to engage in the conduct or cause the result.”

Manslaughter, on the other hand, is a criminal charge in which a person kills another human being as the result of a sudden provocation, recklessness, or a possible belief that circumstances justified deadly force. An alleged offender’s state of mind is one of the most difficult things for any prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, and the criminal penalties can be very different for involuntary manslaughter offenses compared to the consequences for voluntary manslaughter convictions.

If you were arrested or think that you could be under investigation for any kind of manslaughter crime in Wichita, you should exercise your right to remain silent until you have the opportunity to contact an attorney. Make sure that you contact attorney James R. Pratt at Pratt Law, LLC right away.

Our record of successful defense of serious crimes includes the Court of Appeals of Kansas vacating a 162-month sentence issues in an involuntary manslaughter case upheld by the Supreme Court of Kansas. We have extensive experience handling these specific types of cases, and we’re ready to put our knowledge and skill to work for you.

Let James Pratt explain your rights and legal options when you call (316) 262-2600 or contact us online to take advantage of a free consultation.

Kansas Manslaughter Laws

Kansas Statute § 21-5404 establishes that a person commits voluntary manslaughter by knowingly killing a human being in “a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion,” or “upon an unreasonable but honest belief that circumstances existed that justified use of deadly force under” either Kansas Statute § 21-5222, Kansas Statute § 21-5223 or Kansas Statute § 21-5225. Kansas Statute § 21-5202(i) defines acting  “knowingly,” or “with knowledge,” as a person being “aware of the nature of such person’s conduct or that the circumstances exist.”

Kansas Statute § 21-5222 is the state law for defense of a person, Kansas Statute § 21-5223 is the state law for defense of a dwelling, place of work, or occupied vehicle, and Kansas Statute § 21-5225 is the state law for defense of property other than a dwelling, place of work, or occupied vehicle. Kansas Statute § 21-5222 and Kansas Statute § 21-5223 do not require a person to retreat when using force to protect a person or dwelling, place of work, or occupied vehicle.

Kansas Statute § 21-5222 provides that a person is justified in the use of force against another party when they reasonably believe that the use of force is necessary to defend themself or a third person against another person’s imminent use of unlawful force, or prevent death or bodily harm to themself or a third person. Kansas Statute § 21-5223 similarly states that a person is justified in the use of force against another party when that person reasonably believes that the use of force is necessary to prevent or terminate the other party’s unlawful entry into or attack upon such person’s dwelling, place of work or occupied vehicle, or prevent death or bodily harm to any person.

Under Kansas Statute § 21-5225, a person who is lawfully in possession of property other than a dwelling, place of work or occupied vehicle is justified in the use of force against another party for the purpose of preventing or terminating an unlawful interference with that property. A person can only use the force that a reasonable person would deem necessary to prevent or terminate the interference.

Voluntary manslaughter is a severity level 3 person felony. Involuntary manslaughter, on the other hand, can be a severity level 3 person felony, severity level 4 person felony, or severity level 5 person felony.

Involuntary manslaughter is a severity level 3 person felony when the killing of a human being committed in the commission of, attempt to commit, or flight from a driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol crime while either:

  • in violation of any restriction imposed on the alleged offender’s driving privileges;
  • the alleged offender’s driving privileges are suspended or revoked; or
  • the alleged offender has been deemed a habitual violator, including at least one DUI violation.

Involuntary manslaughter is a severity level 4 person felony when the killing of a human being committed in the commission of, attempt to commit, or flight from a driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol crime not involving the circumstances specified above.

Involuntary manslaughter is a severity level 5 person felony when the killing of a human being is committed recklessly. Kansas Statute § 21-5202(j) defines acting “recklessly” or being “reckless,” as consciously disregard of a “substantial and unjustifiable risk that circumstances exist or that a result will follow, and such disregard constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care which a reasonable person would exercise in the situation.”

Involuntary manslaughter is also a severity level 5 person felony when the killing of a human being is committed in the commission of, attempt to commit, or flight from any felony or misdemeanor enacted for the protection of human life or safety, or when the killing of a human being is committed during the commission of a lawful act in an unlawful manner.

Penalties for a Manslaughter Conviction

Sentences in Kansas depend on the severity level of a person’s crime as well as their criminal record. The Kansas Sentencing Guidelines provide three different possible sentences on every grid: aggravated sentences for cases involving aggravating factors, mitigated sentences for cases involving mitigating factors, and presumptive sentences for cases involving equal amounts of or no aggravating factors and mitigating factors.

Under the 2018 sentencing ranges, voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter convictions are all punishable by a fine of up to $300,000. The possible prison sentence will depend on an alleged offender’s criminal record.

The sentencing ranges provide grids that list three numbers: an aggravated sentence for cases involving aggravating factors, a mitigated sentence for a case involving mitigating factors, and a presumptive sentence for a case involving equal amounts of or no aggravating factors or mitigating factors.

Voluntary manslaughter and severity level 3 involuntary manslaughter convictions are punishable by an aggravated sentence of 247 months in prison, a presumptive sentence of 233 months in prison, or a mitigated sentence of 221 months in prison when a person has three or more prior person felony convictions, but a conviction is punishable by an aggravated sentence of 61 months in prison, a presumptive sentence of 59 months in prison, or a mitigated sentence of 55 months in prison when an alleged offender had no prior criminal record.

Severity level 4 involuntary manslaughter convictions can range from a maximum of 172 months in prison for an aggravated sentence of a person with three or more person felony convictions to a mitigated sentence of 38 months in prison for a person with no criminal record. Severity level 5 involuntary manslaughter convictions can range from a maximum of 136 months in prison for an aggravated sentence of a person with three or more person felony convictions to a mitigated sentence of 31 months in prison for a person with no criminal record.

When a person does receive probation for a manslaughter offense, Kansas Statute § 21-6608 recommends a duration of 36 months for most non-drug felonies.

Defending You Against Manslaughter Charges

Manslaughter charges can be very tricky to defend against, depending on what the prosecutor believes an alleged offender’s state of mind was at the time of an offense. Self-defense or defense of others are some of the most common kinds of defenses against manslaughter charges, and you will want to make sure all of your rights are protected.

Some people may have simply been misidentified by eyewitnesses. Being identified in a lineup is not the same as being proven guilty, and evidence can be introduced proving you were not at the location of an alleged manslaughter.

Were you arrested or do you believe that you might be under investigation for an alleged manslaughter in the greater Wichita area? Do not wait to get the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Pratt Law, LLC has more than two decades of experience defending people all over Kansas against all kinds of criminal charges. Call (316) 262-2600 or contact us online to take advantage of a free consultation.