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Understanding manslaughter charges in Iowa

On Behalf of | Oct 9, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

There are several charges a person can face for ending someone’s life in Iowa, and among them is manslaughter. The differences come in the method or intent behind the death, which can mean a much lighter or even more severe sentence for the defendant.

Voluntary manslaughter

Voluntary manslaughter in Iowa (Iowa Code Sec. 707.4) is the criminal act of intentionally killing another human being in the heat of passion. The person responsible for the killing must have acted under serious provocation, however, and it is usually seen as a kind of involuntary act – albeit with tragic consequences.

The only thing that separates this crime from murder is the absence of a “cooling off” period between the provocation and the killing. In other words, the defendant must not have had time to think things through and decide against such an act. A good example of this is when a person finds their spouse committing adultery and kills them in a fit of rage before they can think about it.

Involuntary manslaughter

Involuntary manslaughter in Iowa (Iowa Code Sec. 707.5) occurs when someone kills another person unintentionally. This is often seen as a crime of negligence, recklessness or carelessness. For example, if someone is operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and causes an accident that results in another person’s death, they could face involuntary manslaughter charges.


Voluntary manslaughter falls under Class C felonies. The punishment includes a prison sentence that may extend up to 10 years and fines that can range between $1,000 and $10,000.

In contrast, involuntary manslaughter is a Class D felony, usually associated with negligent or reckless behavior. Perpetrating this offense carries a potential penalty of imprisonment for a maximum term of 5 years, accompanied by a fine ranging from $750 to $7,500.

Understanding manslaughter charges in Iowa is not just about knowing the laws — it’s about recognizing the significant implications these crimes can have on individuals and communities. If you or someone you care about is facing these charges, it’s important to remember that there may be defenses you can use, depending on the circumstances of your case, to help alleviate some of the penalties.



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