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Manslaughter and Homicide Defense Lawyer – Missoula Montana

Whenever a homicide occurs, a person’s life is taken. In nearly all states, what distinguishes a homicide from a murder is the lack of intent to kill a person. Regardless of that fact, a death can occur in the heat of passion without any premeditation. The State of Montana doesn’t have an actual manslaughter statute, but it recognizes the heat of passion as a mitigating factor in causing the death of another person. As a result, the state’s murder statute might not apply, and the offender would be charged with mitigated deliberated homicide which would be voluntary manslaughter in other states.

Extreme Mental or Emotional Stress

The crime of mitigated deliberate homicide is found at Montana Code section 45-5-103. It’s committed when somebody “purposefully or knowingly causes the death of another human being or purposefully or knowingly causes the death of a fetus of another with knowledge that the woman is pregnant but does so under the influence of extreme mental emotional stress for which there is reasonable explanation or excuse.” Any person who is convicted of mitigated deliberated homicide can be sentenced to between two and 40 years in state prison along with a fine not to exceed $50,000.

Negligent Homicide

In the context of manslaughter, Montana has two negligent homicide statutes. A person can be prosecuted for negligent homicide pursuant to Montana Code section 45-5-104 if he or she “negligently causes the death of another human being.” As per the controlling statute, a person who is convicted of negligent homicide can be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison along with a fine not to exceed $50,000.

Vehicular Homicide

The second Montana negligent homicide statute is found at Montana Code section 45-5-106. It addresses vehicular homicide while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or any combination of the two. A person who is found guilty of vehicular homicide while under the influence in Montana “shall be imprisoned in a state prison for a term not to exceed 30 years or be fined an amount not to exceed $50,000, or both.” Under section 45-5-106, deferred sentencing is not an alternative. That means mandatory prison time must be served if a person is convicted of this offense.


As per Montana Code section 45-5-105, when a person aids or solicits somebody else to commit suicide, and the suicide doesn’t occur, that person can be charged with aiding soliciting a suicide. Pursuant to section 45-5-105(2), “A person convicted of the offense of aiding or soliciting a suicide shall be imprisoned in a state prison for any term not to exceed 10 years or be fined an amount not to exceed $50,000, or both.”

Contact a Missoula Criminal Defense Lawyer

A criminal case involving a death must be taken very seriously. The penalties involved in a sentence can be severe, and it’s well within a judge’s sound discretion to sentence an offender on the harsher side rather than on the more lenient side. If you believe that you might be criminally charged, or if you have been charged in connection with a death anywhere in or around Missoula, don’t give the police a statement or confession of any kind. Those will only be used against you in court. The state has the burden of proving you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and without a statement or confession, the prosecution might not even have a case against you. Don’t help it build a case against you either. Any promises that the police might make to you aren’t binding. Just repeat that you want to exercise your right to remain silent. You also have the right to an attorney. Insist on exercising that right too, and contact our offices as soon as possible. We’ll arrange for a confidential consultation, and then, we’ll advise you of what we think we might be able to do for you. Defenses exist to any homicide case. Contact us right away if you think that you’re going to be taken into custody or if you’re in custody on any case involving a fatality.

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  • Missoula Office
    736 South 3rd Street West
    Missoula, Montana 59802
    Phone: 406-728-6868
    Fax: 406-728-7722