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I don't know how to ask this question without sounding weird so here's a quick explanation to try and put some reason behind it...

I'm hooked on the soap opera The Young & The Restless and one of the characters was just sentenced to some prison time for pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter. I was wondering if one of you could explain the difference between voluntary manslaughter and murder.

The guy who plays a lawyer on the show described it but I was busy with my kids and couldn't hear the entire explanation so that's why I'm coming here. Basically, all I got out of it was that it is a somewhat lesser charge.
 

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Voluntary manslaughter would be an intentional killing in which the killer had no premeditation. A 'heat of the moment' sort of thing. Murder requires premeditation.
 

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jennifer2 said:
So, are voluntary manslaugher and 2nd degree murder the same thing then? I thought the premeditation was the difference between 1st and 2nd degree murder.
it actually depends on the jurisdiction (if a state follows the common law or model penal code). It goes something like this:

Common Law
1st degree murder: premediated and deliberate murder
2nd degreee murder: extreme reckleness/depraved heart (i.e. a. Malice aforethought is implied if a person’s conduct manifests an extreme indifference to the value of human life)

Model Penal Code does not differentiate b/w 1st degree and 2nd degree

Common Law
Voluntary Manslaughter
Intent: an intentional killing committed in “sudden heat of passion” as the result of “adequate provocation”

voluntary manslaugther (according to Model Penal Code)
Manslaughter
(1) Criminal homicide constitutes manslaughter when:
• (a) it is committed recklessly or
• (b) homicide which would otherwise be murder committed under extreme mental or emotional disturbance (EEMD)” for which there is a “reasonable explanation” or excuse
• Reasonableness: from viewpoint of person in actor’s situation under the circumstances as he believes them to be –can plausibly be applied to killing 3rd person (someone other than who provoked you)

Involuntary manslaughter: unintentional killing (ordinary recklessness)
 
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