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Washington Manslaughter Laws

When a person kills someone, regardless of intent or other details surrounding the incident, it's generally called a homicide. Crimes that fall under the umbrella of homicide include murder and manslaughter. Essentially, manslaughter charges indicate that the defendant had no intention to kill the victim and didn't plan it beforehand. However, the defendant's actions were reckless or negligent enough that they could've avoided killing if they had acted appropriately.

Many states further divide manslaughter into voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. In Washington, instead of distinguishing between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter, manslaughter is divided into manslaughter in the first degree and manslaughter in the second degree.

Summary of Washington Manslaughter Laws

When searching for the answer to a legal question, you often want a quick answer. Unfortunately, most laws are written in legal jargon that can take time to interpret and understand. For this reason, it can be helpful to read a summary of the law in plain English. The following table highlights the main provisions of Washington's manslaughter laws and provides links to relevant statutes.


Washington Revised Code:

What's Prohibited?

Manslaughter in the First Degree:

  • Recklessly causing the death of another person; or
  • Intentionally and unlawfully killing an unborn child by injuring the mother.

Manslaughter in the Second Degree: causing the death of another person with criminal negligence.

Charges and Penalties

Manslaughter in the First Degree is a class A felony punishable by a maximum of life in prison and/or a maximum fine of $50,000.

Manslaughter in the Second Degree is a class B felony punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison and/or a maximum fine of $20,000.

Related Statute(s)

Washington Revised Code:

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.

Vehicular Homicide in Washington

A crime related to manslaughter is vehicular homicide, which is defined as a death caused by any type of motor vehicle, including a car, SUV, taxi, motorcycle, truck, or bus. Under state law, any death that occurs within 3 (three) years after an auto accident due to injuries incurred in the accident can be considered vehicular homicide if the accident was caused by another driver's negligence.

The driver can be found guilty of vehicular homicide if they were doing any of the following and someone died as a result:

Vehicular homicide is a class A felony. It's important to note however, that if a person commits vehicular homicide under the influence of drugs or alcohol, an additional two years will be added to the sentence for each prior DUI offense.

Washington Manslaughter Laws: Related Resources

For more information and resources related to this topic, please visit the links below.

Charged Under Washington Manslaughter Laws? Get Legal Help

Crimes that fall into the category of homicide are probably the most serious crimes that a person can be charged with, which means that they carry severe consequences. For this reason, if you find yourself facing a manslaughter or murder charge in Washington, it's a good idea to contact a criminal defense attorney for assistance.

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