Homicide and Manslaughter Charges in Pennsylvania


In Pennsylvania there are several types of murder charges that can be filed:

  1. murder in the first, second and third degree;
  2. voluntary and involuntary manslaughter;
  3. homicide by vehicle;
  4. homicide by drug delivery;
  5. homicide by assisted suicide;
  6. and attempted homicide.

Each of these charges has very different penalties upon being convicted. Depending on the charge, you could be sentenced anywhere from a few years in prison to life in prison, or even be put on death row.

Murder Charges in Pennsylvania

If you are facing murder charges, you could receive a sentence of anywhere from 20 years in prison to the death penalty, plus a $50,000 fine.

A first degree murder charge is defined by an intentional act of killing that was carried through. This can include conspiring to murder someone or hiring / soliciting someone else to kill someone. Sentencing for a first degree murder charge is either mandatory life in prison or the death penalty, plus a $50,000 fine.

A second degree murder charge means that a person was killed while the defendant was engaged in another type of felony (a robbery or rape, for example). Or if the defendant was an accomplice to the killing while engaging in another type of felony. Second degree murder is punishable by a life sentence and a $50,000 fine.

All other murder charges committed without intention or while engaging in another felony fall under third degree murder, which is punishable by 20 to 40 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

Homicide Charges in Pennsylvania

§ 2505. Causing or Aiding Suicide Charges

Causing suicide or aiding suicide is defined in the Pennsylvania code as:

Causing suicide as criminal homicide — A person may be convicted of criminal homicide for causing another to commit suicide only if he intentionally causes such suicide by force, duress or deception.

§ 3732 Homicide by Vehicle Charges

When a person faces homicide by vehicle charges in Pennsylvania, not related to driving under the influence, they face a third degree felony. Homicide by Vehicle is defined in the Pennsylvania code as:

Offense — Any person who recklessly or with gross negligence causes the death of another person while engaged in the violation of any law of this Commonwealth or municipal ordinance applying to the operation or use of a vehicle or the regulation of traffic except section 3802 (relating to driving under influence of alcohol or controlled substance) is guilty of homicide by vehicle, a felony of the third degree, when the violation is the cause of death.

§ 3735 DUI Homicide Charges or Vehicular Homicide

If a person is killed, a suspected DUI driver can be charged with DUI Homicide, a second-degree felony and face a minimum of three years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines. If multiple victims were involved, the defendant faces a minimum three year incarceration term for each victim.

Offense defined — Any person who unintentionally causes the death of another person as the result of a violation of section 3802 (relating to driving under influence of alcohol or controlled substance) and who is convicted of violating section 3802 is guilty of a felony of the second degree when the violation is the cause of death and the sentencing court shall order the person to serve a minimum term of imprisonment of not less than three years. A consecutive three-year term of imprisonment shall be imposed for each victim whose death is the result of the violation of section 3802.

§ 2506. Drug Delivery Resulting in Death Charges

If you are convicted of selling, delivering, prescribing, giving or administering a drug that results in someone’s death, you face a first degree felony. The penalty for a drug delivery resulting in death could result in not more than 40 years in prison. Drug Delivery Resulting in Death is defined in the Pennsylvania code as:

Offense defined — A person commits a felony of the first degree if the person intentionally administers, dispenses, delivers, gives, prescribes, sells or distributes any controlled substance or counterfeit controlled substance in violation of The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, and another person dies as a result of using the substance.

Manslaughter Laws in Pennsylvania

§ 2503. Voluntary Manslaughter

Voluntary manslaughter in Pennsylvania is a felony in the first degree. Voluntary Manslaughter is defined in the Pennsylvania code as:

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:

  • The individual killed; or
  • Another whom the actor endeavors to kill, but he negligently or accidentally causes the death of the individual killed.

§ 2504. Involuntary Manslaughter

Involuntary manslaughter is a misdemeanor of the first degree. Where the victim is under 12 years of age and is in the care, custody or control of the person who caused the death, involuntary manslaughter is a felony of the second degree. Involuntary Manslaughter is defined in the Pennsylvania code as:

General rule — 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.

Contact the Pittsburgh Homicide Attorneys at SMT Today

If you or someone you love has been charged with homicide or manslaughter, you probably feel as though the world is crumbling around you. You or your loved one could be sent to prison, lose their job, and face all types of obstacles in the future.

Our experienced criminal defense lawyers try our best to make a positive difference in our clients’ lives by providing solid legal advice and preparing strong and aggressive defense strategies. Our sole aim is to get your charges reduced or withdrawn altogether. We will thoroughly investigate your case, build a strong defense strategy and negotiate with the courts. Our criminal attorneys believe that people are inherently good. But good people make mistakes and some are falsely accused. Defendants may also have families who bear the burden of their loved one being sentenced to prison and losing their income. Our attorneys will show you and your family compassion and respect for your situation. Contact the Pittsburgh criminal attorneys at SMT Legal today.

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