Voluntary Manslaughter Laws in Pennsylvania

The Top 10 Things NOT To Do If You're Arrested

What is Voluntary Manslaughter?

You can read PA’s Voluntary Manslaughter law here: Title 18 Pa.C.S.A. Crimes and Offenses § 2503. It states that:

  1. General rule.–A person who kills an individual without lawful justification commits voluntary manslaughter if at the time of the killing he is acting under a sudden and intense passion resulting from serious provocation by:

    1. the individual killed;  or
    2. another whom the actor endeavors to kill, but he negligently or accidentally causes the death of the individual killed.
  2. Unreasonable belief killing justifiable.–A person who intentionally or knowingly kills an individual commits voluntary manslaughter if at the time of the killing he believes the circumstances to be such that, if they existed, would justify the killing under Chapter 5 of this title (relating to general principles of justification), but his belief is unreasonable.

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At The McShane Firm, we answer yes to all of these questions. We strive to provide you with a great customer service experience during this tough time.

The law makes for two rules for voluntary manslaughter. In the first, the killer was seriously provoked and acted in the heat of passion. This is different from murder because of the emotional context of what took place. You have to be so overcome with emotion that you “lost your mind.”

The second scenario is when a person believes he is justified in killing someone (because of self-defense), but that belief is objectively unreasonable. In this scenario, there is room for interpretation of whether or not the person was under a severe and imminent threat that led to this killing.

Voluntary Manslaughter is a homicide. Even if you did not intend to kill someone, you will be labeled by society as a killer.

Free Guide to Self-Defense in PA

What are the Penalties for Voluntary Manslaughter?

Voluntary Manslaughter
Felony of the 1st Degree
Maximum Penalty:
20 years in prison

How a Voluntary Manslaughter can Affect Your Life?

Just because the other person provoked it, does not mean the court will let you off easy. Someone died and the government will be looking to hold you responsible for that death.

Voluntary Manslaughter is a very serious offense and you could be facing up to 20 years in prison. Furthermore, if you are convicted you will also have a homicide on your criminal record. With background check apps and websites, people will be able to see your homide and label you as a killer.

Now ask yourself:

  • What employer wants to hire a killer?
  • Who wants to date a killer?
  • Who wants to live near a killer?

What is The McShane Difference?

  • We take time to understand your personal needs and goals. Then we cater our legal strategy to fit you.
  • We care about you. We listen and return phone calls. We will take time to explain things so you are not left anxious in the dark.
  • We will make this as easy as possible. We will try to minimize the number of times you have to be in court which means less disruption of your work and family life.

Does this sound like what you are looking for in an attorney? If yes, then take the next step and call (717) 657-3900.

People with “just” a voluntary manslaughter on their criminal history face challenges. They may not gain steady meaningful employment even for minimum wage jobs. If you have a professional license, that will most certainly be revoked. 

On top of all that, the family of the victim may take civil action against you and sue you for everything you have.

What are some Possible Defenses against a Voluntary Manslaughter Charge?

One of the worst things is, police charge Voluntary Manslaughter even when they haven’t committed a crime! The killing may be justified and in complete self-defense. The police often don’t investigate the facts. They frequently just slap charges on people.

Proving that the officers were wrong takes a lot of investigating. It requires deep knowledge of the laws and procedures involved. When the stakes are this high, do not make the mistake of trusting your case to a cheap or free lawyer. Chances are, that attorney will not be able to spend the time need to prepare a strong defense and will mess things up beyond repair.

Don’t let a manslaughter conviction rob you of your freedom for years to come. Call The McShane Firm now at 7176573900 for your free case consultation. Our experienced attorneys will help you plan out a course of action to fight these charges.

Our Clients are entitled to a Bill of Rights which states:

  • Our clients have the right to expect, we will be proactive in communication. You will hear it from us first. We will return all phone calls, texts and emails promptly.
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This is our promise to you. Call today to get us on your side: (717) 657-3900.


According to the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts in 2017, there were 25,878 offenses committed against a person. These are mostly assault and related offenses.

The Most Dangerous

When measured by the number of assault offenses per 1,000 people, the counties that
had the most offenses were:

Counties with the Highest Rate of Assault Offenses

Different Types of
Assault Charges

Type of Offense PA Statute Description Penalty Range
Simple Assault 18 § 2701 Attempting to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another.
  • Up to 2 years imprisonment and $5,000 in fines
  • For fighting by mutual consent, up to 1 year imprisonment and $2,000 in fines
  • If against a minor under 12 by and adult, then up to 5 years imprisonment and $10,000 in fines
Aggravated Assault 18 § 2702 Attempting to cause serious bodily injury to another. There are many other aggravating factors such as assaulting a law enforcement officer, school teacher or employee.
  • If graded as a Felony of the First Degree then up to 20 years imprisonment and $25,000 in fines
  • If graded as a Felony of the Second Degree then up to 10 years imprisonment and $25,000 in fines
Involuntary Manslaughter 18 § 2504 A person is guilty of involuntary manslaughter when as a direct result of the doing of an unlawful act in a reckless or grossly negligent manner, or the doing of a lawful act in a reckless or grossly negligent manner, he causes the death of another person.
  • Up to 5 years imprisonment and $10,000 in fines
  • If the victim is under 12 years of age and is in the care or custody the person who caused the death then up to 10 years imprisonment and $25,000 in fines
Voluntary Manslaughter 18 § 2503 A person who kills an individual without lawful justification commits voluntary manslaughter if at the time of the killing he is acting under a sudden and intense passion resulting from serious provocation.
  • Up to 20 years imprisonment and $25,000 in fines
Murder 18 § 2502 A criminal homicide constitutes murder of the first degree when it is committed by an intentional killing.
  • If graded as a Murder of the Third Degree then up to 40 years imprisonment and $25,000 in fines
  • If graded as a Murder of the Second Degree then Mandatory life imprisonment
  • If graded as a Murder of the First Degree then Mandatory Death or Mandatory life imprisonment

An Assault Conviction can Shatter your Life

Beyond the penalties in court, an assault conviction can ruin your life in many ways.

  • 1 An assault conviction will stay on your criminal record forever. Future employers, friends, even someone you ask out to dinner can easily use common apps to see your assault conviction.
  • 2 Depending on the nature and severity of the crime, you can lose your professional license. This affects people from many professions such as doctors, lawyers, massage therapists and even barbers.
  • 3 Many companies have policies not to hire someone who has been convicted of a violent crime.
  • 4 If your conviction is a sexual offense, you may have to register as a sex offender which may make it difficult to find a place to live.

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