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Article 119—Manslaughter
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Text.

“(a) Any person subject to this chapter who, with an intent to kill or inflict great bodily harm, unlawfully kills a human being in the heat of sudden passion caused by adequate provocation is guilty of voluntary manslaughter and shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”

(b) Any person subject to this chapter who, without an intent to kill or inflict great bodily harm, unlawfully kills a human being—

(1) by culpable negligence; or

(2) while perpetrating or attempting to perpetrate an offense, other than those named in clause (4) of section 918 of this title (article 118), directly affecting the person; is guilty of involuntary man-slaughter and shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

Elements.

(1) Voluntary manslaughter.

(a) That a certain named or described person is dead;

(b) That the death resulted from the act or omission of the accused;

(c) That the killing was unlawful; and

(d) That, at the time of the killing, the accused had the intent to kill or inflict great bodily harm upon the person killed.

(2) Involuntary manslaughter.

(a) That a certain named or described person is dead;

(b) That the death resulted from the act or omission of the accused;

(c) That the killing was unlawful; and

(d) That this act or omission of the accused constituted culpable negligence, or occurred while the accused was perpetrating or attempting to perpetrate an offense directly affecting the person other than burglary, sodomy, rape, robbery, or aggravated arson.

Explanation.

(1) Voluntary manslaughter.

(a) Nature of offense. An unlawful killing, although done with an intent to kill or inflict great bodily harm, is not murder but voluntary manslaughter if committed in the heat of sudden passion caused by adequate provocation. Heat of passion may result from fear or rage. A person may be provoked to such an extent that in the heat of sudden passion caused by the provocation, although not in necessary defense of life or to prevent bodily harm, a fatal blow may be struck before self-control has returned. Although adequate provocation does not excuse the homicide, it does preclude conviction of murder.

(b) Nature of provocation. The provocation must be adequate to excite uncontrollable passion in a reasonable person, and the act of killing must be committed under and because of the passion. How-ever, the provocation must not be sought or induced as an excuse for killing or doing harm. If, judged by the standard of a reasonable person, sufficient cooling time elapses between the provocation and the killing, the offense is murder, even if the accused’s passion persists. Examples of acts which may, depending on the circumstances, constitute adequate provocation are the unlawful infliction of great bodily harm, unlawful imprisonment, and the sight by one spouse of an act of adultery committed by the other spouse. Insulting or abusive words or gestures, a slight blow with the hand or fist, and trespass or other injury to property are not, standing alone, adequate provocation.

(2) Involuntary manslaughter.

(a) Culpable negligence.

(i) Nature of culpable negligence. Culpable negligence is a degree of carelessness greater than simple negligence. It is a negligent act or omission accompanied by a culpable disregard for the foresee-able consequences to others of that act or omission. Thus, the basis of a charge of involuntary manslaughter may be a negligent act or omission which, whe viewed in the light of human experience, might foreseeably result in the death of another, even though death would not necessarily be a natural and probable consequence of the act or omission. Acts which may amount to culpable negligence include negligently conducting target practice so that the bullets go in the direction of an inhabited house within range; pointing a pistol in jest at another and pulling the trigger, believing, but without taking reasonable precautions to ascertain, that it would not be dangerous; and carelessly leaving poisons or dangerous drugs where they may endanger life.

(ii) Legal duty required. When there is no legal duty to act there can be no neglect. Thus, when a stranger makes no effort to save a drowning person, or a person allows a beggar to freeze or starve to death, no crime is committed.

(b) Offense directly affecting the person. An “offense directly affecting the person” means one affecting some particular person as distinguished from an offense affecting society in general. Among offenses directly affecting the person are the various types of assault, battery, false imprisonment, voluntary engagement in an affray, and maiming.

Lesser included offenses.

(1) Voluntary manslaughter.

(a) Article 119—involuntary manslaughter

(b) Article 128—assault; assault consummated by a battery; aggravated assault

(c) Article 134—assault with intent to commit voluntary manslaughter

(d) Article 134—negligent homicide

(e) Article 80—attempts

(2) Involuntary manslaughter.

(a) Article 128—assault; assault consummated by a battery

(b) Article 134—negligent homicide

Maximum punishment.

(1) Voluntary manslaughter. Dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 15 years.

(2) Involuntary manslaughter. Dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 10 years.

Next Article > Article 120—Rape and carnal knowledge >

Above Information from Manual for Court Martial, 2002, Chapter 4, Paragraph 44

 

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