The Times Union has recently reported on an incident in Saratoga County where the manager of a trailer park has been accused of killing one of the tenants over loud music. According to the article, the manager of the mobile home park is accused of choking the tenant to death. The altercation began when one of the victim’s neighbors complained to the manager about loud music shortly before 1:00 a.m. on Friday, April 29, 2016. In response, the manager allegedly confronted the victim verbally. The confrontation apparently turned physical, and the neighbor that had originally complained about the loud music but was not involved in the confrontation itself eventually called 911. When the police arrived shortly thereafter, they found the victim unresponsive and trapped in a chokehold by the defendant. After deputies separated the men and began CPR on the victim, who was not breathing, the victim was taken to an area hospital in critical condition, and the defendant was originally charged with first-degree strangulation. Sadly, the victim died on Sunday, May 1, 2016, and the defendant’s charges were amended to include second-degree manslaughter.

Understanding Manslaughter

In New York, manslaughter is a form a homicide. The difference between manslaughter and murder is that there is an absence of malice aforethought in manslaughter. This means that homicides which do not involve premeditation, usually including those that occur in the heat of passion or as a result of a violent confrontation, are typically charged as manslaughter cases because the defendant did not necessarily commit the homicide with a premeditated intention of actually killing the victim. New York law recognizes two forms of manslaughter: manslaughter in the second degree and manslaughter in the first degree, with manslaughter in the first degree being a more serious offense.

Manslaughter in the second degree, governed by New York Penal Law 125.15, usually occurs when someone recklessly causes the death of another person. To determine whether or not a defendant has acted recklessly, juries will have to decide whether or not the defendant has engaged in conduct that created a substantial and unjustifiable risk that could cause another’s death, that the defendant consciously disregarded that risk once aware of it, and that such conduct constitutes gross deviation from that of a reasonable person. In the situation discussed above, this charge may be the maximum charge currently available to prosecutors because there may not currently be evidence that the defendant demonstrated the intent to commit homicide or that the defendant even intended to cause serious bodily injury. However, there may be evidence sufficient to prove that the defendant’s actions were so reckless during the physical altercation that left the victim unresponsive that a reasonable person would have ceased such physical altercation before the point that caused injury substantial enough to result in death.

On the other hand, manslaughter in the first degree is applied in a variety of different circumstances, briefly explained here. Generally, manslaughter in the first degree still requires an element of intent. Usually, a person that acts with intent to cause serious physical harm to another that could reasonably be seen as posing a risk of death and actually causes such death by their actions will be charged with manslaughter in the first degree, as long as there is no evidence of premeditation in the death. A criminal defense attorney can explain the nuances of these and other criminal charges.

Securing Criminal Defense

As you are likely aware, manslaughter and murder are extremely serious crimes. The potential consequences for a conviction on such charges can be devastating. If you are facing charges related to an alleged violent crime, especially manslaughter or murder, it is essential that you secure a criminal defense team with experience in defending against such charges. The criminal defense team at Nave + Associates (formerly Anelli Nave) recognizes that the rights of all defendants must be protected as they move through the legal process, and those defending against manslaughter or murder are no exception.

If you have been charged with manslaughter or murder, regardless of the degree or circumstances surrounding the charge, contact the criminal defense team and Nave + Associates (formerly Anelli Nave) to schedule a consultation about your case. With such serious charges, it is important that your defense team have the opportunity to conduct their own investigation into the alleged crime as soon as possible to ensure the integrity of evidence and witnesses, and to make sure that you are equipped to present the defense right for your circumstances.

DISCLAIMER: The exclusive purpose of this article is educational and it is not intended as either legal advice or a general solution to any specific legal problem. Corporate offices for Nave + Associates (formerly Anelli Nave) are located at 432 N. Franklin Street, Suite 80, Syracuse, NY 13204; Telephone No.: 1-866-792-7800. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Attorney Advertising.