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First-Degree Manslaughter Charges in Minnesota Manslaughter/Murder

First-Degree Manslaughter Charges in Minnesota

2 years ago by Justin M. Schiks
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While a manslaughter charge is not as serious as murder, it is still one of the most serious criminal charges you can face. However, manslaughter charges are often confusing, and it can be difficult to understand the difference between manslaughter and a murder charge. It’s important to understand the difference, as prosecutors may threaten to charge you with murder when they can’t actually do so or offer you a plea agreement on manslaughter charges that they can’t prove.

If you’ve been charged with murder or manslaughter, a Woodbury manslaughter lawyer at JS Defense can help you understand your charges and your options. More importantly, he’ll fight to make sure you get a fair result. Contact our office to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.

Killing in the Heat of Passion

You can be charged with first-degree manslaughter in Minnesota if you kill someone in the heat of passion. Under Subsection 1 of 609.20 of Minnesota law, killing in the heat of passion occurs when the following circumstances:

  1. You intended to cause the death of another person; and
  2. You were provoked by words or acts that would provoke a person of ordinary self-control under similar circumstances.

In other words, manslaughter is an intentional killing when provoked. For example, if you killed your spouse because you came home and found them cheating on you, you might be charged with manslaughter. However, it is important to note that manslaughter does not cover every type of provocation in every situation. The statute expressly excludes the crying of a child, and someone who is intoxicated is not considered “a person of ordinary self-control.”

Accidental Killing

You can also be charged with first-degree manslaughter in Minnesota if you accidentally killed someone while committing fifth-degree assault. Assault in the fifth-degree defined as:

  1. Committing an act with the intent to cause fear in another of immediate bodily harm or death; or
  2. Intentionally inflicting or attempting to inflict bodily harm upon another.

Fifth-degree assault rises to the level of the first-degree manslaughter when someone is killed, and it involved “such force and violence that death of or great bodily harm to any person was reasonably foreseeable…” Unlike killing in the heat of passion, you can be charged with first-degree manslaughter in this scenario even though you didn’t intend to kill the other person.


You can also be charged with first-degree manslaughter if you killed someone because you were threatened into believing that killing that person was the only way of preventing your death or the death of some other person. However, the circumstances must be such that you “reasonably” believed that killing the other person was the only way to prevent further death.

Death by Overdose

You can also be charged with first-degree manslaughter if you were involved in giving drugs to someone who subsequently dies of an overdose.  The statute gives broad latitude to prosecutors, allowing them to charge anyone who was “directly or indirectly” involved in “unlawfully selling, giving away, bartering, delivering, exchanging, distributing, or administering” the controlled substance that caused the overdose.

Malicious Punishment of a Child

The death of a child caused by cruel or unreasonable punishment can also result in a first-degree manslaughter charge. 

Understanding the Consequences of a First-Degree Manslaughter Charge

Even though manslaughter is less serious than murder, you could face very serious consequences if you are convicted. A conviction for the first-degree manslaughter carries the following potential penalties:

  1. Up to 15 years in prison
  2. A fine of up to $30,000

In addition, you will also have a conviction for a violent crime on your permanent record. 

Woodbury Manslaughter Lawyer Justin Schiks Can Help You Face Your Charges

A manslaughter conviction can change your life forever, and time is not on your side. Call a Woodbury manslaughter lawyer at JS Defense today at (651) 968-9652 to schedule your free consultation. The sooner you call us, the sooner we can help. Contact us here.

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