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Voluntary Manslaughter Attorney in Van Nuys

San Fernando Valley Criminal Defense Lawyer


Over the course of the past 25 years, I usually see the concept of Voluntary Manslaughter come up when someone is charged with murder and is really guilty of the lesser crime of Voluntary Manslaughter. These type of killings usually occur when the defendant is caught up in the heat of passion and makes the decision to act on emotion and kill another person. If the defense can establish that the defendant was so caught up in emotion that then could not form the requisite intent for murder, then there will be a good argument for a manslaughter jury instruction and ultimately a not guilty verdict for murder and a finding of guilty for Voluntary Manslaughter.

The prosecutor in Los Angeles and the Valley courts will likely argue strongly that the defendant should be convicted of murder and that their actions amounted to a could calculated killing. In order to combat this argument, the defense will have to counter that the defendant was so upset by what the alleged victim did or said that they got swept up in so much passion that it is not fair to find that they are guilty of murder. Of course the defense will alo have to prove that the defendant was adequately provoked by the alleged victim to justify a finding of not guilty for the murder charge.


Over the course of the past 25 years I have been in many contested cases where we must show that the alleged victim provoked my client sufficiently for purposes of blocking a murder conviction and achieving a voluntary manslaughter conviction. It has to be the type of provocation that an average person would react to with extreme emotion and possibly violence depending on the circumstances. The prosecutors will of course argue that the defendant is just making up the provocation in order to escape responsibility for their actions. This is where the best attorneys excel and the weak ones crumple up. Make sure you have a top level criminal defense attorney on you team if you want to have the best chance to suceed and avoid a life altering conviction and sentence.


California Penal Code Section 192(a) PC defines voluntary manslaughter as the killing of a human being in which there was no prior intent to kill but the person acted in a heat of passion, meaning that the person acted as a result of adequate/reasonable provocation. This type of offense usually comes up when the defendant sees something that causes them to act in a swift and violent manner. For example, if the defendant sees his wife having sex with another man in their home, this type of scenario can cause a sudden violent passionate reaction.

Adequate or reasonable provocation is what makes the difference between murder and voluntary manslaughter. Provocation is considered adequate if a reasonable person would lose control under the same circumstances. Adequate provocation and whether there was a cooling down period is under the reasonable person standard that is to be determined by the jury. Our duty to our client is to show the jury that the provocation that caused the death was adequate as a reasonable person under the same circumstances would have acted the same way.

Common defenses are: Self defense; defense of others; insanity; accidentally killing someone (not acting negligently and engaged in lawful conduct at the time).

Voluntary manslaughter also may be a defense to murder charges.

For example, if a person walked up and hurt another person's child to a serious degree, this is the type of situation that could cause a person to lose it and not have the mental fortitude to deliberate or premeditate before resorting to deadly behavior.

A conviction of voluntary manslaughter may result in three, six, or eleven years in California state prison.

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The Hedding Law Firm
Phone: (818) 986-2092
Encino-San Fernando Valley Address:
16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436
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Los Angeles-Downtown Address:
445 South Figueroa St
Los Angeles, CA 90071