Voluntary manslaughter defenses in St. Louis, MO

On Behalf of | Feb 8, 2022 | Uncategorized |

Voluntary manslaughter is when an individual deliberately kills another because of anger or passion. The killing must have happened before the perpetrator had time to “calm down” or “cool off.” If there was no emotional excitement that caused anger, the killing becomes a murder case. Missouri law also recognizes knowingly helping another person cause “self-murder” as voluntary manslaughter (assisted suicide).

In St. Louis, voluntary manslaughter is classified as a Class B felony, and the penalty includes 5-15 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. However, a person charged with manslaughter has a right to defend themself or justify their actions. Below are some effective defenses in a voluntary manslaughter lawsuit.

Actual innocence

In a voluntary manslaughter lawsuit, the prosecutors have the burden of proving that the defendant committed the crime and is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In their defense, the defendant may prove that the evidence is not valid or claim an alibi. The jury may dismiss the case if the defendant provides a reasonable doubt about their guilt.


For the court to consider the killing was a result of self-defense, the defendant must show that there was a reasonable need for deadly force to protect their lives.

Accidental killing

Proving that the homicide was the result of an accident is another valid defense in a voluntary manslaughter lawsuit. The claim even has the potential to reduce the charge to involuntary manslaughter, which is caused by negligent or reckless behavior. The defendant carries the burden of showing that the victim’s death did not result from an intentional act.


Intoxication is not a valid excuse for criminal behavior unless the defendant was drugged against their will. A successful intoxication defense may cause the court to drop the charge to manslaughter.


Finally, a defendant may defend themselves by proving or showing that they lacked the mental capacity to commit voluntary manslaughter. However, if the defendant is found not guilty because of insanity, the court may send them to a mental health institution for treatment if they are considered a danger to the community.

Some states do not explicitly allow for an insanity defense. Missouri, however, allows for the insanity defense, outlined by the M’Naghten Rule. Under this statute, the court can determine that a suspect did not understand what they were doing because of a “disease of their mind.”

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