Types of Manslaughter Charges in Washington

Manslaughter in the First Degree

First Degree Manslaughter is a very serious charge. It is a Class A felony and a person convicted of First Degree Manslaughter faces a standard sentencing range of 78-280 months in prison. Pursuant to RCW 9A.32.060, a defendant may be found guilty of Man 1 (as it is known) if a jury finds:

  1. He or she recklessly causes the death of another person; or
  2. He or she intentionally and unlawfully kills an unborn quick child by inflicting any injury upon the mother of such child.

The definition for “recklessness” is: Displaying willful and wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” Sometimes a person facing a more serious charge, such as murder will seek to have the charge reduced as part of a plea bargain.

Manslaughter in the Second Degree

Second Degree Manslaughter is one of the lowest level homicide charges. Still, it is very serious and carries a prison sentencing range of 28-144 months. It is a Class B Offense. If you are charged with Second Degree Manslaughter, to obtain a conviction, the prosecutor (the State of Washington) would need to prove the following, as set forth under RCW 9A.32.070:

(1) A person is guilty of manslaughter in the second degree when, with criminal negligence, he or she causes the death of another person.

“Criminal Negligence” is defined as follows: A person is criminally negligent or acts with criminal negligence when he or she fails to be aware of a substantial risk that a wrongful act may occur and his or her failure to be aware of such substantial risk constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise in the same situation.

Manslaughter in the Second Degree can be a stand-along charge or sought as a reduction from a more serious homicide allegation. As a stand-alone charge, it is very fact-specific. For example, the difference between Man 1 and Man 2 (as they are known) is that Man 1 requires the State to prove “Recklessness” while Man 2 requires a showing of “Criminal Negligence.”

Whether the original charge is Murder or Manslaughter, it is crucial that the advice of a top attorney is sought. Puget Law Group’s homicide team is lead by Jared Ausserer – who has extensive experience in such matters and provides invaluable counseling to defendants and families dealing with such charges. Jared understands when it is necessary to seek a reduced charge and pursue a possible plea bargain but also is not afraid to roll up his sleeves and fight. He has tried more than 30 homicide trials. Jared is assisted by Casey Arbenz who has been involved in dozens of homicide cases and is also fearless when it comes to taking a case to jury trial. If you are facing a Manslaughter charge, give Jared and Casey at Puget Law Group a call.

Many criminal defense attorneys will claim knowledge of the differences surrounding the charges, but unless they have vast experience with homicide cases, you simply cannot trust that your right to an effective and skilled lawyer will be protected. If you have questions about a Manslaughter in the First or Second Degree Charge, reach out to our top ranked Homicide defense team. Led by Jared Ausserer and Casey Arbenz – and consisting of six former prosecutors, the only such defense team in the State – the homicide team at PLG have vast experience trying and appealing all manner of homicide cases.


Manslaughter charges can be almost as serious as a Murder charge, depending on the circumstances involved. But defenses such as Self Defense, Defense of Others, Justifiable Homicide and Excusable Homicide, in the hands of the right defense team, may be available to fend off such a charge.

If you or a loved one are facing a Manslaughter allegation, be sure to reach out to Jared Ausserer and Casey Arbenz – the leaders of the Puget Law Group Murder Homicide defense team. With 30 years combined experience working on Manslaughter cases, as both prosecution and defense, Jared and Casey are the team you want in your corner if facing a Manslaughter allegation. Jared served for more than two years has the “Homicide Division Chief” in the Pierce County District Attorney’s Office before being promoted to “Chief Criminal Deputy.” Casey worked alongside a number of brilliant defense attorneys as both a trial and appellate lawyer for more than 10 years before joining PLG. Put simply, you will not find a finer team of professionals to fight your Manslaughter charge.

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