Voluntary Manslaughter: Definition, Examples & Punishment

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: What Are Felonies? - Definition, Types & Levels

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:03 What Is Voluntary…
  • 0:53 Voluntary Manslaughter…
  • 2:13 Voluntary Manslaughter…
  • 2:42 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Schubert

Jessica is a practicing attorney and has taught law and has a J.D. and LL.M.

Learn what constitutes voluntary manslaughter. Review the definition of voluntary manslaughter and look at several examples. Finally, examine the punishment for voluntary manslaughter.

What Is Voluntary Manslaughter?

Voluntary manslaughter, also known as a heat of passion murder or a crime of passion, is a killing that comes about when one is emotionally charged and suddenly acts. There is no time for the person to have thought about their actions and they simply act, unintentionally and without stopping to plan the killing.

Frequently, the crime of voluntary manslaughter occurs when the offender has been provoked into acting. Thus, something triggers the killing, such as an event or situation. However, generally speaking, simple gestures or statements are not deemed sufficient as a triggering event; there must be a more significant situation to cause someone to commit voluntary manslaughter. Furthermore, the time between the provocation and the actual event must be short; a long delay will cause the killing to be treated as a murder and not as voluntary manslaughter.

Voluntary Manslaughter Examples

Let's look at some examples to get a better understanding of what constitutes voluntary manslaughter. Imagine that Amy and Bill, husband and wife, are in a very heated argument when Amy discovers Bill is having an affair. Amy and Bill start physically fighting and Amy pushes Bill at the top of the stairs in their home. Bill stumbles backwards, falls down the stairs, hits his head on the way down, and ends up dying. Amy is found guilty of voluntary manslaughter because she knocked Bill down in the heat of passion, while they were physically fighting. Amy meant to cause Bill harm and Bill's death was a consequence of the argument.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?
I am a teacher

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 95 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,000 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account