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What is the Prison Sentence for Manslaughter in New York City?

Manslaughter is one of the most serious crimes a defendant can be charged with in New York City. Seth Koslow explains the criminal penalties for manslaughter under New York’s penal code, including penalties for the related offenses of vehicular manslaughter and aggravated manslaughter.

How Are Criminal Offenses Classified Under New York’s Penal Code?

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Manslaughter and murder are distinct crimes.  Though murder is the more serious offense, manslaughter charges are also an extremely urgent matter for the defendant.  Manslaughter offenses have some of the most severe criminal classifications possible in New York, and the consequences for convicted defendants are accordingly tough.
New York’s criminal code, which is called the New York Penal Law, labels all criminal offenses as either misdemeanors or felonies.  (You can also receive jail time for a “violation,” such as loitering or disorderly conduct; but violations are not technically considered crimes.)
Next, each misdemeanor and felony is placed into a more specific category called a “class.”  The penalties for a given crime depend largely on which “class” that crime is in.  Here is how classes of crimes are organized under New York’s penal code:

  • Misdemeanors
    • Unclassified
    • Class B
    • Class A
  • Felonies
    • Class E, Violent
    • Class E, Non-Violent
    • Class D, Violent
    • Class D, Non-Violent
    • Class C, Violent
    • Class C, Non-Violent
    • Class B, Violent
    • Class B, Non-Violent
    • Class A-II
    • Class A-I

The closer the letter is to the beginning of the alphabet, the more serious the crime is.  For example, in this hierarchy the maximum sentence for a Class B felony (whether violent or non-violent) would be longer than the maximum sentence for a Class C, D, or E felony (whether violent or non-violent).  Similarly, non-violent offenses have shorter minimum sentences than violent offenses.  For example, Class B violent and non-violent felonies have the same maximum sentence (25 years), but the minimum sentence is shorter for a non-violent offense (one year for non-violent versus five years for violent).
This is where the system can get slightly confusing for defendants and their loved ones: in addition to their class, crimes are also designated by degree, which, like class, indicates the severity of the crime.  For example, second degree manslaughter is a Class C felony, while first degree manslaughter is a Class B felony.  Notice how the degree and the class both increase together – second to first, C to B – as the charge gets more serious.

What is the Maximum Felony Sentence if You Are Convicted of Manslaughter in New York?

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New York’s manslaughter laws are consolidated under Article 125 of the NY Penal Law, which also deals with murder, vehicular homicide, and negligent (careless) homicide.  There are six ways a person can be charged with manslaughter under Article 125, and each has a specific sentencing range.
Sentencing for each of New York’s six manslaughter charges is explained below, organized by the type of offense.  The “statute” is simply the section of the law, within Article 125, that defines and classifies the offense.

  1. Second Degree Manslaughter
    • Statute – NY Penal Law § 125.15
    • Class – Class C Non-Violent Felony
    • Sentence – No jail (probation) to 15 years in prison
  2. First Degree Manslaughter
    • Statute – NY Penal Law § 125.20
    • Class – Class B Violent Felony
    • Sentence – 5 to 25 years in prison
  3. Second Degree Aggravated Manslaughter
    • Statute – NY Penal Law § 125.21
    • Class – Class C Violent Felony
    • Sentence – 3 ½ to 15 years in prison
  4. First Degree Aggravated Manslaughter
    • Statute – NY Penal Law § 125.22
    • Class – Class B Violent Felony
    • Sentence – 5 to 25 years in prison
  5. Second Degree Vehicular Manslaughter
    • Statute – NY Penal Law § 125.12
    • Class – Class D Non-Violent Felony
    • Sentence – No jail (probation) to 7 years in prison
  6. First Degree Vehicular Manslaughter 
    • Statute – NY Penal Law § 125.13
    • Class – Class C Non-Violent Felony
    • Sentence – No jail (probation) to 15 years in prison

NY Homicide Defense Attorney Handling Aggravated and Vehicular Manslaughter Charges

If a loved one or family member has been charged with manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter, or aggravated manslaughter in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, or Staten Island, it is crucial that you contact a highly experienced homicide defense attorney for immediate legal assistance.  It is always vital to start developing a defense strategy as soon as possible, especially in cases involving charges as serious and complex as manslaughter.
Seth Koslow has many years of experience representing defendants charged with manslaughter offenses, murder, aggravated murder, negligent homicide, and vehicular homicide.  He handles cases throughout Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and the Bronx.  To arrange a free legal consultation regarding your loved one’s criminal charges, arrest, or detention in jail, call the law offices of Seth Koslow immediately at (347) 561-0025.  Your information will be kept confidential.

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