Wisconsin Manslaughter Defense Attorney

While manslaughter is considered a lesser crime than murder, it is still a serious crime that carries with it the weight of serious penalties. There is a wide range of circumstances that could contribute to being charged with manslaughter in the state of Wisconsin, but there is one unifying factor that every circumstance has in common. That factor is simple: Any individual charged with the crime of manslaughter needs a competent and aggressive attorney working on their behalf.

At Hart Powell, S.C., we understand the serious nature of a manslaughter charge. A conviction has the potential to change an individual’s life and financial situation significantly. No matter the circumstances, at Hart Powell, S.C., we believe that everyone deserves fair and aggressive legal representation. It takes knowledge and skill to build a strong defense, and the attorneys with Hart Powell, S.C. will work diligently on your behalf to craft a solid defense strategy. Our goal is to protect your rights.

If you or a loved one has been charged with manslaughter, don’t wait. Contact our Wisconsin state homicide lawyers at Hart Powell, S.C. immediately. We will review the circumstances of your case and explain all of your legal options. You need a defense attorney dedicated to helping you. Contact Hart Powell, S.C. at (414) 271-9595 to schedule your consultation today.

What Is the Definition of Manslaughter?

Manslaughter is the crime of committing an unlawful killing. What differentiates manslaughter from murder is intent. Manslaughter involves taking a life without malice or premeditation. In the absence of malice, the circumstances surrounding the case may diminish their ultimate responsibility, thus resulting in a charge of manslaughter instead of murder. Typically, there are two different and distinct types of manslaughter, voluntary and involuntary.

Voluntary Manslaughter 

Voluntary manslaughter is also sometimes known as a “crime of passion” or a “heat of the moment” crime. That’s because voluntary manslaughter is generally the result of a person being strongly or intimately provoked, and that provocation then results in the killing. A “heat of the moment” killing is typically conducted immediately, without a second thought. It is an emotional reaction to a sudden and shocking stimulus.

There is no “cool-down” period between the provocation and the act itself. A “cool-down” or “cool-off” period where the individual has time to think rationally and consider all their options would generally result in a murder charge.

A classic example of voluntary manslaughter involves a spouse who comes home to find their partner in bed with someone else. The act of adultery is such a traumatic and emotional event that it sets off a chain reaction of events that results in the death of the partner. While betrayal is not an excuse for killing, it could be considered a mitigating factor when determining how to charge an individual, thus resulting in a manslaughter charge instead of a murder charge.

Involuntary Manslaughter 

The circumstances of involuntary manslaughter are much different. Involuntary manslaughter is an unintentional killing that can be attributed to criminal negligence or reckless behavior. Generally, someone accused of involuntary manslaughter never had any intention to kill someone, but through a series of careless or reckless actions or choices, someone’s life was taken.

Since there was negligent or reckless behavior involved, an individual may be held accountable for a death that they never meant to cause. In the state of Wisconsin, involuntary manslaughter is considered a reckless homicide, and there are several different categories that a crime of this nature may fall under. Wisconsin statutes that cover reckless homicide include:

  • Second-Degree Reckless Homicide: This crime involves the death of another person or unborn child through criminal recklessness or unreasonable risk of causing serious harm or death.
  • Homicide Resulting from the Negligent Control of a Vicious Animal: You could be held accountable when a vicious animal or pet under your care kills another person.
  • Homicide by Negligent Handling of a Dangerous Weapon, Explosives, or Fire: Unintentionally killing someone by recklessly using a firearm, air gun, knife, fire, fireworks, or other projectiles can fall under this statute.
  • Homicide by Intoxicated Use of Vehicle or Firearm: Drunk driving that results in the death of an individual may result in this charge, as well as killing someone while drunk and using a firearm.
  • Homicide by Negligent Operation of a Vehicle: This charge may be the result of a reckless or negligent driver running a red light and killing someone, or otherwise causing death with the reckless or negligent operation of an automobile.

Wisconsin Penalties for Manslaughter

The penalties for manslaughter in the state of Wisconsin vary depending on the severity and circumstances of the incident. Penalties may also depend on whether an individual is charged with voluntary or involuntary manslaughter. As in the case of some voluntary manslaughter cases, state of mind at the time of the crime may also be a mitigating factor that could come into play during the penalty phase.

Since the circumstances of the case can vary significantly, so can the penalty outcome. Wisconsin state law outlines the classification of each charge and the range of penalties that can be assigned for a conviction.

Voluntary Manslaughter:

Involuntary Manslaughter:

  • Second-Degree Reckless Homicide, Homicide by Intoxicated Use of Vehicle or Firearm
    • Class D Felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison and/or fines up to $100,000
  • Homicide Resulting from the Negligent Control of a Vicious Animal, Homicide by Negligent Handling of a Dangerous Weapon, Explosives, or Fire
    • Class G Felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or fines up to $25,000
  • Homicide by Intoxicated Use of Vehicle or Firearm (with prior convictions)
    • Class C Felony punishable by up to 40 years in prison and /or fines up to $100,000

Defense Strategies for Manslaughter Charges

It is extremely important to get in contact with an experienced defense attorney immediately if you or a loved one has been charged with the serious crime of manslaughter. While several different tactics and defense strategies may apply to manslaughter cases, it is crucial for an attorney to be able to examine the facts surrounding the case while they are still fresh.

A skilled attorney will have the ability to conduct an independent investigation and gather critical evidence needed to help establish a solid defense strategy moving forward. Some of those defense options may include:

  • The heat of passion defense
  • Imperfect self-defense
  • Diminished responsibility
  • Insufficient evidence
  • Accident without negligence
  • Provocation

At Hart Powell, S.C., we understand that every case and situation is different. There is no cookie-cutter defense strategy that will work for all clients. A knowledgeable attorney must dig into the evidence, get to know their client, and craft a defense strategy that is personalized to the specifics of the case at hand.

The legal system can be very complex, and prosecuting attorneys are aggressive and ruthless when it comes to manslaughter cases. If you are facing this serious charge, you want someone on your side that can be as equally aggressive about protecting you and your rights as the other side is about seeing you convicted.

A manslaughter conviction not only carries serious prison time as a consequence, but it is also a felony charge that could end up haunting you for the rest of your life. A conviction can limit your ability to find a job, apply for housing, secure credit, and it can significantly set you back financially.

Your reputation, career, family life, and future opportunities are all at stake. Don’t trust your future to just anyone; you need a qualified attorney with manslaughter defense experience. If you or someone you love is facing manslaughter charges, immediately get in touch with the experienced legal team at Hart Powell, S.C. for help and important legal advice. You have options. Let the team at Hart Powell, S.C. lay them out for you and help you navigate the complicated legal process. 

Contact an Experienced Wisconsin Defense Attorney

At Hart Powell, S.C., we understand that this is a very stressful time. A manslaughter charge is serious, and without an experienced attorney to guide you through the process, you could be facing prison time and stiff penalties.

The Milwaukee manslaughter defense team of Hart Powell, S.C. includes a dedicated and experienced team of attorneys whose sole focus is to protect your rights. We will work with you to craft a personalized defense strategy tailored to the specific facts and circumstances of your situation. Don’t wait for circumstances to resolve themselves or get out of hand. Immediately contact the team at Hart Powell, S.C. for help.

If you or a loved one is facing a manslaughter charge, we want to help. An experienced defense team is waiting. Contact us today by calling (414) 271-9595 and scheduling a consultation. Don’t let time work against you. Get us working on your behalf right away.

Written by Michael Hart & Craig Powell

Last Updated : September 5, 2023