The manslaughter laws in Connecticut are similar to those in most other states, but they are named differently. Most states classify the taking of a life through an act of negligence as involuntary manslaughter and the taking of a life by an intentional act as voluntary manslaughter. In Connecticut, these crimes are called second-degree and first-degree manslaughter. One of the key components of a manslaughter charge is a lack of premeditation. An individual would be charged with first-degree manslaughter instead of murder if they acted in the heat of the moment or intended to only injure and not kill their victim.
First-degree manslaughter is a Class B felony in Connecticut that is punishable by a prison sentence of up to 20 years and a fine of up to $15,000. Second-degree manslaughter, which is recklessly or negligently causing the death of another person, is a Class C felony that carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000. Maximum sentences are rarely handed down because the defendants who face them usually receive more lenient treatment under the terms of plea agreements negotiated between prosecutors and their criminal defense attorneys.
Firearms and motor vehicles
Individuals who accidentally kill others while using or brandishing firearms face mandatory minimum sentences under Connecticut’s manslaughter laws, but the maximum penalties are the same. If they are convicted of first-degree manslaughter, they must serve at least five years of their sentence. If they are convicted of second-degree manslaughter, they must remain behind bars for at least a year. Causing the death of another person while acting recklessly behind the wheel of a motor vehicle will lead to a second-degree manslaughter charge in Connecticut unless the drive is intoxicated. Motorists who cause fatal accidents while under the influence of drugs or alcohol face first-degree manslaughter charges in the Constitution State.
An individual who accidentally takes the life of another person can be sent to prison for up to 20 years in Connecticut, but few defendants actually receive the maximum sentence. This is because the overwhelming majority of them receive more lenient sentences in return for pleading guilty. Prosecutors may offer these deals even when they have compelling evidence because they have heavy caseloads and do not want to risk losing in court.