Voluntary Manslaughter: Not the Crime Taught in Law School

In the world of academia, the crime of voluntary manslaughter was always taught to be a friend of the criminal defense attorney as the punishment for this charge is far less than that of traditional homicide. With that stated, the charge is one of the most serious of crimes in the state of Michigan and the Federal Court System. To learn more about this crime, we turned to leaders in the field of criminal defense in our state.

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates which has evolved to the top criminal defense firm in the state of Michigan. When asked about voluntary manslaughter, Grabel provided commentary when he stated, “It’s a 15-year felony, and any such charge is one that must be addressed carefully and aggressively. The actual statute is Michigan Penal Code 750.321 and the language reads: Any person who shall commit the crime of manslaughter shall be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison, not more than 15 years or by fine of not more than 7,500 dollars, or both, at the discretion of the court. It is truly one of the more serious crimes that state levies in charging documents.”

Matthew McManus is the founder of Ann Arbor Legal PLLC in Ann Arbor, Michigan and providing commentary when he stated, “What is taught at the law schools of University of Michigan, Michigan State, and Western Michigan Thomas M. Cooley Law School is not the way our criminal justice system applies this crime. In both my criminal law and criminal procedure class, students were told how voluntary manslaughter was a friend of the criminal defense attorney, in reality, it can be a nightmare. What we were taught in school certainly did not take into account a judge that will exceed the “Tanner-Max” on a plea agreement.”

Joe Brugnoli is a former police officer that has quickly become one of the top criminal defense lawyers in the Grand Rapids area. When asked about the charge of voluntary manslaughter, Brugnoli stated, “When you bring a charge from first-degree murder to voluntary manslaughter many in our profession consider that a win but in reality, many things need to be taken into consideration. Sometimes aggression is needed more than expected in this type of criminal litigation, and many defense attorneys often overlook that. Knowing the jurisdiction is essential with this particular charge.”

The crime of voluntary manslaughter should come with a robust independent competency evaluation coupled with a Stanaway Motion. The emotional state of both the victim and the defendant need to be carefully examined and are just as crucial to the case as are the facts of the litigation.

William Amadeo is a partner at Ann Arbor Legal PLLC in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a Senior Associate for Grabel and Associates in Lansing, Michigan, “Of Counsel” for the Tim McIlwain and the Law Offices of Brian Largey in New Jersey. Amadeo is licensed in Michigan, New Jersey, and the Federal Court System. In addition to his litigation duties, Amadeo is a widely published journalist. Amadeo can be reached at Amadeo@Annarboresq.com or Williamamadeo@Grabellaw.com.

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