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Ohio Voluntary Manslaughter Laws

Ohio Voluntary Manslaughter

Voluntary manslaughter occurs when a person intentionally kills another, but acted out of passion or anger brought about by some adequate cause and before he or she had a reasonable time to calm down. For example, a woman comes home to find her husband in bed with another woman and -- in a rage -- reaches for the pistol in her purse and shoots him dead. The difference between that and murder is that she didn't plan to kill him beforehand.

In Ohio, the difference between murder and voluntary manslaughter is simple. Both involve purposefully killing someone. However, it is voluntary manslaughter when the killer's thinking was disturbed by emotional excitement to the point that a reasonable person might have acted on impulse without thinking twice. The killing itself must be the result of the emotional excitement.

This typically happens when a person is acting in self-defense, but overreacts and kills another person. The person technically acted with the intent to kill, but the self defense was "in the heat of passion" so the court will likely find the person guilty of voluntary manslaughter.

The reaction to kill has to happen instantaneously. If the person has had any time to "cool off" before they go perform the killing, it becomes a murder.

The following table highlights the main provisions of Ohio's voluntary manslaughter laws. See also Voluntary Manslaughter Defenses, Voluntary Manslaughter Penalties and Sentences, and Involuntary Manslaughter.

Code Sections Ohio Revised Code Section 2903.03

"Heat of passion" crime

What is Prohibited?

Knowingly causing the death of another person or their unborn child while under the influence of sudden passion or a sudden fit of rage, which is brought on by serious provocation by the victim that is reasonably sufficient to incite the person into using deadly force. There can't be a significant "cooling-off period" between the provocation and the killing or it can become a murder charge.

Penalty First degree felony: 3-11 yrs. in prison

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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Ohio Voluntary Manslaughter Laws: Related Resources

Get Legal Help if You've Been Charged with Voluntary Manslaughter in Ohio

If you're convicted of voluntary manslaughter, you're likely heading toward some prison time. Any time incarceration is a possibility, you need to act in your best interest and seek out professional legal help. So, if you've been charged under Ohio voluntary manslaughter laws, it's best to contact a local criminal defense attorney who can assess your options and develop a sound legal defense.

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