Getting arrested for DUI does not mean you will be convicted. Police misconduct, defective breathalyzers and crime lab mistakes may be enough to get your charges lessened or dismissed. Visit our page on Colorado DUI Laws to learn more.
Under Colorado law, manslaughter is a less serious form of homicide than murder. You commit manslaughter when:
Under section 18-3-104 C.R.S. of the Colorado criminal code, punishment for Colorado manslaughter can be anywhere from 2 to 6 years in prison (followed by 3 years mandatory parole) and a fine as high as $500,000, depending on the circumstances.
Fortunately, there are a number of defenses to Colorado manslaughter charges. These include (but are not limited to):
To help you better understand Colorado’s manslaughter law, 18-3-104 C.R.S., our Colorado criminal defense lawyers discuss the following, below:
Section 18-3-104 (1) of the Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.) provides:
A person commits the crime of manslaughter if he or she:
You cause a death recklessly when you act in a manner that involves substantial and unjustifiable risk of death and although you are conscious of the risk, you nevertheless choose to engage in the action.1
To be guilty of reckless manslaughter, it is not necessary that you specifically intended to cause someone’s death. Rather, it requires that you knowingly engaged in conduct that created a substantial and unjustifiable risk of causing death.2
In Colorado, second-degree murder, manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide are distinguished by:
In second-degree murder, the killing is intentional but not premeditated, and you know that death is practically certain as a result of your conduct.
For manslaughter, you are aware that there is a substantial and unjustifiable risk of death, but you nevertheless choose to engage in the risky conduct anyway.
If, on the other hand, through a gross deviation from the standard of reasonable care, you simply fail to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk of death and someone is killed as a result, you have committed criminally negligent homicide.
Colorado used to classify “heat of passion” killings as a form of manslaughter. The stereotypical heat of passion killing is one that results when you come home from work early and find your spouse in bed with someone else. It is a killing that is not premeditated, but rather one that arises when you are substantially provoked by something that would arouse passion in a reasonable person.
Colorado now recognizes the heat of passion killing as a form of second-degree murder. However, whereas most second-degree murder is a class 2 felony, murder under the heat of passion is punished as a less serious class 3 felony.
Colorado also considers it manslaughter when:
“Aiding” suicide means you provide the means to commit suicide. If you actively perform an act that results in death, it is considered murder.3
You do not aid a suicide by withholding care or providing medication in accordance with:
You are also not guilty of manslaughter if you are a medical caregiver with prescriptive authority or authority to administer medication who prescribes or administers medication for palliative care to a terminally ill patient with the consent of the terminally ill patient or his or her agent.5 However, this exception does not permit a medical caregiver to assist in a patient’s suicide.
For purposes of Colorado’s manslaughter statute:
Under Colorado 18-3-104 C.R.S., manslaughter can be punished by:
If the killing was accidental and not the result of ignoring a substantial and unjustifiable risk of death, you are not guilty of manslaughter.
Accidental killings include (but are not limited to) hunting accidents, auto accidents by sober drivers, and deaths due to unknown hazardous conditions in the home that do not result from deviations from a reasonable standard of care.
In Colorado, you may legally use deadly physical force to defend yourself or someone else if:
Force is not legally justified, however, if:
Under Colorado law, you are considered insane when as a result of mental disease or defect:
You cannot use the insanity defense, however, if your diminished capacity resulted solely from voluntary intoxication.
It is very difficult to meet the legal standard for insanity, which is not the same as the medical standard for mental illness. Simply suffering from a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder is not enough. You are only considered insane as a matter of law if, at the time of the killing, you satisfied one of the specific conditions set forth above.
A successful diminished capacity defense, therefore, requires a great deal of legwork as well as the testimony of medical experts to explain that you had no awareness of your actions at the time of a killing, or were unable to understand the consequences.
If you are claiming you are not guilty by reason of insanity, it is important to retain a Colorado criminal defense lawyer that has experience with mental health issues and is not afraid of the science.
Manslaughter cases frequently turn on eyewitness testimony. And yet even honest and well-meaning witnesses can make errors due to multiple factors, including:
As a result of these and other factors, many researchers consider eyewitness testimony inherently unreliable.10 However, many people do not know this and eyewitness testimony from someone who appears confident and credible can create real problems for defendants.
Our experienced Colorado criminal attorneys have a number of proven techniques to counter unfavorable eyewitness testimony. These include (without limitation):
Police and prosecutors are subject to stringent rules and procedures in investigating and prosecuting crimes.
If the police or the prosecutor messes up, we can move to exclude evidence obtained as a result. Ways the police can violate your rights include (but are not limited to):
If you or someone you know has been charged with a violent crime such as murder, manslaughter, homicide or assault, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation.
We treat our clients as individuals who are deserving of respect and a fair shake. We know that there are two sides to every story and that the prosecution doesn’t always care about yours. But we do.
We represent clients accused of homicide and other serious felonies in Denver, Colorado Springs, Aurora, Fort Collins, Lakewood, Thornton, Arvada, Westminster, Centennial and most other locations within Colorado.
To discuss your case with one of our caring Colorado criminal lawyers, fill out the confidential form on this page, or call us at our Denver home office. One of our Colorado homicide lawyers will get back to you quickly to discuss your case and possible defenses.
Our home office is located at:
Colorado Legal Defense Group
4047 Tejon Street
Denver, CO 80211
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