NRS 200.050: Voluntary Manslaughter in Nevada—Definition & Penalties

Have you ever been so angry with someone that you wanted to harm them in some way?

Maybe you’ve said it out loud in anger. However, most people come to their senses at some point and nothing more comes of it than hurt feelings.

But what happens when that anger or rage is taken to another level and without thinking the enraged person fails to control their anger and a person ends up dead?

What happens then?

That’s just one example of voluntary manslaughter or the killing of another person in the heat of passion without any premeditation.

If you or a loved one is facing manslaughter charges in Nevada, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. The Defenders is a Las Vegas-based legal defense firm that can provide you with the experienced legal representation you need.

How Does Nevada Define Voluntary Manslaughter?

NRS 200.050 States:

  1. In the case of voluntary manslaughter, there must be a serious and highly provoking injury inflicted upon the person killing, sufficient to excite an irresistible passion in a reasonable person, or an attempt by the person killed to commit a serious personal injury on the person killing.
  2. Voluntary manslaughter does not include vehicular manslaughter as described in NRS484B.657

Voluntary Manslaughter is when one person kills another out of rage after being provoked.

Voluntary manslaughter applies to any situation where any reasonable person in the killer’s shoes would have felt a similar passion.

There are three elements that are common when someone is charged with voluntary manslaughter:

  1. A person must suffer a significant wrong that would upset a reasonable person
  2. The person who normally is reasonable snaps after having been wronged
  3. In a sudden, heated, violent impulse, the person immediately kills the wrongdoer.

In order for a homicide to qualify as a voluntary manslaughter charge, the provocation that causes the killer to become enraged must be significant.

On a side note there is no such thing as “attempted manslaughter”. This is because an attempt is to act with deliberation and malice, which is the exact opposite of the legal definition of manslaughter.

What Is an Example of Voluntary Manslaughter?

The most classic example of a case of voluntary manslaughter is when a spouse comes home to find the wife or husband sleeping with someone else, and the spouse fatally wounds the person who was with their partner.

Being betrayed by a spouse or partner is one of the most painful things that happens to people. While most people would not kill over the betrayal, most reasonable people would feel the urge to kill over it.

Manslaughter charges are reserved for people who act upon the urge to kill someone who betrayed them in some way.

Voluntary Manslaughter Penalties in Nevada

Under NRS 200.050 The sentence for a manslaughter conviction is:

  • 1-10 years in state prison
  • Up to a $10,000 fine at the judges discretion

Voluntary manslaughter charges can sometimes be reduced to involuntary manslaughter that carries a maximum sentence of up to 4 years in prison.

Nevada Law vs. Federal Law

The charge of Voluntary Manslaughter in Nevada is almost the same as the charge at the Federal level. However a federal conviction for voluntary manslaughter carries up to 15 years in prison, that is 5 more than the maximum penalty in Nevada.

Manslaughter as Plea Bargain for Murder

When someone is charged with murder, a good criminal defense attorney may be able to get the prosecution to reduce the charge to voluntary manslaughter.

It would be in the best interest of the client to take the plea bargain for two reasons:

  1. Voluntary Manslaughter charges carry a much less sentence of 10 years in prison. A murder conviction can carry a life sentence or even the death penalty.
  2. Murder is premeditated and with malice , while manslaughter is a crime of passion. People tend to be more tolerant of a manslaughter charge than a murder charge.

For example, this man who was facing a second-degree murder pleaded to voluntary manslaughter charges as a plea bargain instead.

Common Defenses Against Voluntary Manslaughter

Your defense team may use these most common defenses against a voluntary manslaughter charge:

  1. Self Defense: Nevada law permits people to kill in order to protect themselves from immediate bodily harm or death. Self defense only applies when a defendant is acting reasonably under the circumstances. A reasonable person just believes that they are in immediate danger of being killed or being harmed with serious bodily injury.
  2. Insanity Defense: People charge with homicide crimes can be found not guilty by reason of insanity if they were in a delusional state that prevented them from either (a) knowing or understanding the nature and capacity of their act; or (b) Appreciating that their conduct was illegal. This defense is used for people suffering from mental illness like bipolar or schizophrenia.  The insanity defense is often a hard defense to prove and may have the defendant committed to a mental hospital if found not guilty by reason of insanity.
  3. Accident: Deaths that are caused by accidents are not criminal. The only time they are considered to be criminal is if the defendant was acting in a negligent manner at the time of the killing.
  4. Falsely Accusation: The defendant is actually innocent of the crime. It is the prosecution’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. As long as your defense team can demonstrate that the prosecution’s evidence is unreliable or inadequate to sustain a conviction the charges should be dropped.

Is there a Statute of Limitations?

In Nevada, a person can be charged with murder at any time as there is no statute of limitations. However, charges of voluntary manslaughter must be brought within 3 years.

There is only a one year statute of limitations to bring charges against someone for vehicular homicide charges.

Can I Get Bail if I’m Charged With Voluntary Manslaughter

When someone is charged with murder, they most likely won’t get bail or if they do, the bail will be a significant amount of money that most people don’t have the ability to pay.

However, if you are charged with voluntary manslaughter you will go for a bail hearing and may be granted bail.

You need to hire the right defense team as soon as you are charged with a serious crime like voluntary manslaughter.

Your defense attorney can recommend a bail bonds company that can help you get out of jail quickie by posting your bond.

Then you can begin to work on your case with your defense team.

The Defenders—Your Criminal Defense Lawyers

If you’ve been arrested and charged with a crime like voluntary manslaughter in Nevada, we are the law firm that is here to help you.

The Defenders is a criminal defense law firm whose lawyers defend clients arrested and charged with DUIs, felonies, misdemeanors, domestic violence, sex crimes, murder and other violent crimes, drug possession, white collar crimes, and more than a dozen other criminal charges.

Here’s what you should know.

  1. Time is critical. You need to hire a lawyer now before the problems get even bigger.
  2. The choice of a law firm you make now can affect the outcome of your case and make a lifetime of difference.

You need to work with a Nevada based law firm, one that knows the ins and outs of the local court system and laws.

The Defenders is that law firm with a proven track record for our clients. Contact our office today for a free consultation.
The Defenders Criminal Defense Attorneys - Best of Las Vegas Gold Winner

Frequently Asked Questions

What is voluntary manslaughter?

It is when a person kills another out of rage after being provoked. Voluntary manslaughter applies to any situation where any reasonable person in the killer’s shoes would have felt similarly enraged and acted upon it. For example, if a spouse comes home to find their partner in bed with someone else and they fatally wound the person, that would be an example of voluntary manslaughter.

What’s the difference between voluntary manslaughter from murder?

Manslaughter Charges are different than murder in that manslaughter is done WITHOUT any: Premeditation, Deliberation, or Malice aforethought. For a killing to be classified as manslaughter, it must occur as soon as the suspect is provoked.

If any time passes between the provocation and the killing the court may decide that the suspect had time to cool off. During that cooling off period the person had the mental capacity to premeditate the crime making it a crime of murder instead of manslaughter.

What’s the difference between voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter?

Involuntary Manslaughter (NRS 200.070) occurs when a person’s risky behavior resulted in a death that should have been avoided. Involuntary manslaughter is often referred to as accidental or negligent homicide. Both voluntary and involuntary manslaughter are felonies. But involuntary manslaughter has a much lower penalty.

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