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Arkansas Voluntary Manslaughter Law

Under Arkansas' criminal code there are six types of criminal homicide: capital murder, murder in the first degree, murder in the second degree, manslaughter, negligent homicide, and physician-assisted suicide.

What's the Difference Between Murder and Manslaughter?

The key difference between murder and manslaughter is malice (or the intent or desires to cause harm to another through an unlawful act). Murder is the unlawful killing of another with malice under specific circumstances defined by each state. Conversely, manslaughter is the unlawful killing of another without malice.

Manslaughter in Arkansas

In Arkansas, there are two type of criminal homicide that involve the unlawful killing of another without malice: manslaughter and negligent homicide. This article focuses on the crime of manslaughter, also referred to as voluntary manslaughter in some other states. Voluntary manslaughter is commonly defined by states as an intentional killing where the offender didn't previously intend to kill. The following table outlines Arkansas' manslaughter law.

Code Section

Arkansas Code section 5-10-104: Manslaughter

What's Prohibited?

  • Causing the death of another person under circumstances that would be murder, except the offender causes the death under the influence of an extreme emotional disturbance for which there is a reasonable excuse
  • Purposely causing or aiding another person to commit suicide
  • Recklessly causing the death of another person, or
  • Committing or attempting to commit a felony, and while committing the felony (or in immediate flight from the felony) the person or an accomplice negligently causes the death of any person or another person who is resisting the felony or flight causes the death of any person


Class C felony. Punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment for 3 to 10 years.

Heat of Passion Killing

The following example of a heat of passion killing is a classic case of manslaughter in Arkansas.

Example: Bob comes home and finds his wife in bed with his best friend. In a heat of passion Bob kills the friend. If the defense can prove that Bob acted under the influence of an extreme emotional disturbance, and that finding his wife committing adultery constitutes a reasonable excuse, then Bob will likely be guilty of manslaughter (rather than the more serious crime of murder).

Additional Resources

State laws change frequently. For case specific information regarding Arkansas' manslaughter law contact a local criminal defense lawyer.

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