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Minneapolis Criminal Defense Attorneys Help Overcome Manslaughter Charges

Minneapolis criminal defense attorneys well understand the Minnesota statute 609.20, Manslaughter in the First Degree. This emotionally laden offense–in which one “causes the death of another person in the heat of passion”–may be punished by as many as 15 years behind bars and/or by a fine just shy of $30,000. The following is an overview of First Degree Manslaughter which, by no means, includes every element of this crime.:


Anyone accused of First Degree Manslaughter may have been “provoked” into deadly aggression by another’s “words or acts”–words or acts which would “provoke a person of ordinary self-control” in the same situation.  For this definition, “ordinary self-control” would not be assumed of anyone who’d been imbibing alcoholic beverages or “controlled substances”(like heroin, methamphetamines or cocaine) prior to becoming “provoked” sufficiently to take a life. And, Minnesota law does not consider “the crying of a child” the kind of incitement that would naturally lead to another’s death.


A person may also be charged with First Degree Manslaughter if he/she causes a death while “committing or attempting to commit a misdemeanor (such as a first-time DUI, trespass, and simple theft) or a gross misdemeanor (assault on a police officer, criminal neglect of a vulnerable adult, and stalking) with such force and violence” that a reasonable actor could have foreseen that “great bodily harm” or the death of another was inevitable. Such a death, though, does not include the sort of “premeditation” and “intent” assigned to Murder in the First and Second Degrees.


First Degree Manslaughter, however, may be the charge if a person has “intentionally caused the death of another” because he/she felt “coerced by threats” made by the other, and “reasonably believed” that employing aggression and violence to the point of (the other’s) death was the only way of avoiding death himself/herself.


If–as the result of a person’s “unlawfully selling, giving away, bartering, delivering, exchanging, distributing or administering a Schedule III, IV, or V controlled substance”–this person unintentionally brings about another’s demise, he/she can be accused of First Degree Manslaughter.


And, “maliciously punishing a child” to the extent that this child unintentionally and accidentally dies may result in an arraignment for First Degree Manslaughter.


One’s state of mind at the time of a First Degree Manslaughter incident is important to his defense.  Perhaps he had been mentally overwrought and the person(s) who “provoked” his “passion” knew this–or had every ability to know this. Perhaps the frequency and intensity of threats made by his opponent would have caused any “reasonable” person to imagine, “It’s either me, or him/them!”


If you have been charged with First Degree Manslaughter in Minnesota, please contact us. We can help you fully understand all the elements of this crime, and offer you expert representation.

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