A person charged with crimes that resulted in the death of another person could face serious consequences. Depending upon the charges, penalties could range from a year's imprisonment up to a life sentence. It is imperative that those facing such charges in West Virginia understand the case being brought against them so a rigorous defense can be mounted.
There are several types of charges one could face when another person is killed during an altercation. In the state of West Virginia, the major charges are·first degree murder, second degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter. All of these are felonies for the exception of involuntary manslaughter, which is considered a misdemeanor.
The premeditated killing of a person falls under murder in the first degree. Also, if a person dies during the commission of another violent crime, or during the delivery of a controlled substance, these acts can also lead to first degree murder charges. The intentional killing of a person without premeditation is considered second degree murder.
Manslaughter is the accidental killing of a person. The difference between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter depends on whether it is determined that one person used unnecessary force which resulted in another person's death. Voluntary manslaughter generally means unnecessary force was used, while involuntary manslaughter means a person was not trying to kill the other, but death occurred regardless.
The penalties for each charge vary. First degree murder convictions carry life imprisonment. Second degree murder convictions are a minimum of 10 up to a maximum of 40 years imprisonment. Parole consideration occurs after serving no less than 10 years of the original sentence.
For voluntary manslaughter, the minimum sentence is three years with a maximum of 15 years. Parole could be granted after three years is served. Involuntary manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail, a $1,000 fine or both.
The sentences and parole consideration varies depending on several factors. A person charged with involuntary manslaughter might not receive jail time if the act that caused another person's death was a tragic accident. On the other hand, a second degree murder charge could include a myriad of other charges. These circumstances determine the time a person must serve before seeking parole.
Source: West Virginia Legislature, "West Virginia Code, Chapter 61," accessed May 20, 2016