Have you Been Charged with Voluntary Manslaughter of an Unborn Child?
There are many crimes that when charged automatically follow with bias, anger, and hostility from the public. Voluntary Manslaughter of an unborn child is one of those such offenses. If you or a loved one has been charged with this offense, Lawson and Berry and their team of Georgia Attorneys will listen to your story without judgment and will seek to help you. Our Lawyers have years of experience in criminal law and will build the best defense possible for your case. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Georgia Law O.C.G.A. §16-5-80(d) reads as follows,
A person commits the offense of voluntary manslaughter of an unborn child when such person causes the death of an unborn child under circumstances which would otherwise be feticide and if such person acts solely as the result of a sudden, violent, and irresistible passion resulting from serious provocation sufficient to excite such passion in a reasonable person; provided, however, that, if there should have been an interval between the provocation and the killing sufficient for the voice of reason and humanity to be heard, of which the jury in all cases shall be the judge, the killing shall be attributed to deliberate revenge and be punished as feticide.
Under Georgia law, an unborn child means a member of the species homo sapiens at any stage of development who is carried in the womb. O.C.G.A. §16-5-29.
What does provocation producing a sudden, violent, and irresistible passion mean?
The killing cannot be premeditated or be deliberated beforehand. It must be done in the heat of the moment. One of the keywords that differentiates voluntary manslaughter from murder is the sudden requirement. The provocation must produce an immediate action. If there is a cooling off period where the defendant has time to think about their actions and form a plan, then the crime is generally charged as murder. While whether there was a cooling off period is a question left to the jury, if there is a significant time different such as a day or a week, then generally the charge will be a murder charge. The Court has stated that a five to fifteen minute period for cooling off does not render the act of killing murder instead of voluntary manslaughter as a matter of law. Davis v. State, 140 Ga. App. 890, (1977).
It also means that the actions leading up to the provocation must have been convincing that such passion would have also been raised in a reasonable person. The Court has found that just words are generally not enough to establish that a defendant was seriously provoked. However, words plus threatening movements could be sufficient provocation. If it would not have been enough for a reasonable person to become incited, then the charge could be elevated to murder.
An example of a cooling off period is demonstrated in the case of Harris v. State. 280 Ga. App. 373, (2006). In that case, the defendant shot a victim to death but claimed it was because of the provocation of a beating that the victim gave to him a month earlier. The defendant said the reason it was a month later was because the defendant had not seen the victim since the beating. The Court found that this was not voluntary manslaughter because it was a month later.
Penalty for a Conviction for Voluntary Manslaughter of an Unborn Child in Georgia
A person convicted of the offense of voluntary manslaughter of an unborn child shall be guilty of a felony and will be subject to prison for a period of one to twenty years.
Defenses to Voluntary Manslaughter of an Unborn Child
Lack of Intent: Voluntary manslaughter requires that there is intent to kill even it if it is mitigated by a provocation. If no intent can be established, your Attorney will seek for the charges to be dropped or for the charge to be lowered to involuntary manslaughter.
It was an accident: Similar to the defense of lack of intent, voluntary manslaughter requires that there is intent to kill. If the killing happened by accident, you could receive a reduction to an involuntary manslaughter charge.
Abortion: If a pregnant woman consents to an abortion, then this statute does not apply, and there is no crime.
Medical Treatment: If a pregnant woman sought medical treatment for herself or the unborn child, then the Statute does not apply to that treatment and therefore there was no crime.
What are not Defenses
They were not the intended victim: Offenses of murder, voluntary manslaughter, and aggravated assault do not require that the intent to kill or injure must have been directed toward the person who was actually killed or injured.
I was provoked: In Georgia, it does not matter who started the altercation. If you killed an unborn child after someone provoked you, it would still be considered voluntary manslaughter.
Having knowledgeable representation is of up the utmost importance when facing a criminal charge. Your Georgia Voluntary Manslaughter of an Unborn Child Attorney will investigate all the details surrounding your case and evaluate your options. We are available anytime – even nights and weekends. Your case is important to us. Lawson and Berry and their team of Lawyers will work with you to fight your charge and avoid a conviction. Call today and schedule a free consultation.