Click to Call: (303) 725-0017


Manslaughter consists of causing the death of another person without premeditation, voluntarily or otherwise. Colorado defines Manslaughter as a felony offense, though penalties vary widely depending on circumstances.

In the following article, we’ll go over Colorado’s manslaughter laws, as well as associated penalties and offenses.

Manslaughter Defense Attorneys

Manslaughter can include significant prison time, hefty fines, and long-term impacts on one’s personal and professional life. Manslaughter cases often involve complex legal and factual questions about intent, negligence, and causation.

If you or a loved one have been charged with manslaughter, contact the Law Office of Matthew Martin immediately. Matthew Martin will get all of the facts of your case and build a strong legal defense to defend you in court.

To request an initial consultation call (303) 725-0017.

Information Center

Back to top

Manslaughter Defined

Colorado’s manslaughter laws cover situations where a person’s actions lead to the death of another, but without the premeditation or malice aforethought typically associated with murder charges. Manslaughter in Colorado is considered a less severe charge than murder, reflecting circumstances where the offender did not intend to cause death. The state distinguishes between two main types of manslaughter: voluntary and involuntary.

Voluntary Manslaughter

Voluntary manslaughter often involves a killing that occurs in the “heat of passion.” This means that the individual commits the act in a moment of intense emotional disturbance, provoked by the victim, and without the time to cool off. The classic example of finding a spouse in bed with another person and reacting violently in the moment is often considered voluntary manslaughter. While the law recognizes the human propensity to react strongly under certain provocations, it still holds individuals accountable for failing to control their actions, albeit less severely than for premeditated murder.

Involuntary Manslaughter

Involuntary manslaughter occurs when a person’s unlawful or negligent actions, not intended to cause serious harm or death, nevertheless result in someone’s death. This can include acts of criminal negligence where the individual failed to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk that their action or inaction would lead to someone’s death. Examples include fatal car accidents caused by reckless driving or deaths resulting from illegal handling of firearms.

Back to top

Manslaughter Laws in Colorado

Colorado Revised Statutes Section 18-3-103 (murder in the second degree, but with voluntary manslaughter provision)

Colorado Revised Statutes Section 18-3-104 (manslaughter)

Colorado Revised Statutes Section 18-3-105 (criminally negligent homicide)

Colorado Revised Statutes Section 18-3-106 (vehicular homicide)

Back to top


The penalties for manslaughter in Colorado vary based on the specifics of the case, including the defendant’s intent, the circumstances of the death, and the defendant’s criminal history.

Involuntary manslaughter is considered a class 4 felony in Colorado, which can result in penalties including:

  • 2 to 6 years in prison, but this can be extended under certain aggravating circumstances.
  • Fines of up to $500,000.
  • Probation and community service may also be part of the sentence.

Criminally Negligent Homicide is a class 5 felony with the following penalties:

  • Up to 3 years in prison
  • Fines of up to $100,000

However, if the person harmed by criminally negligent homicide is a person with a disability, then the crime becomes a class 4 felony.

Back to top

Legal Defenses

Defenses to manslaughter charges can vary widely, depending on the circumstances. Common defenses include:

 Justifiable Homicide: This defense applies in cases of self-defense or other cases where the defendant was not responsible for the death (due to mistake, accident, or lack of causation)

Proving Intent or care: In many cases, the defense may be responsible for proving that they did not intend to cause damage. In cases where a person was responsible for providing care, they may be responsible for providing logs and other means of proving that they exercised the appropriate levels of care and followed medical instructions.

Alibi: Your lawyer may also seek to prove that you were not involved in the death at all.  This involved fighting evidence from the prosecution and using witnesses, video evidence or other means of proving that you could not have been involved in the accident.

Back to top

Additional Resources

Federal Manslaughter Definition –  Read the federal definition of manslaughter.

Murder vs. Manslaughter – Read more about the differences between murder and manslaughter.

Back to top

Hire a Manslaughter Defense Attorney in Denver, Colorado

Matthew Martin represents clients on Manslaughter charges throughout the state of Colorado, including the city of Denver in Denver County, and the surrounding areas in the Front Range region including: Brighton in Adams County. Centennial and Littleton in Arapahoe County, Castle Rock in Douglas County, Golden in Jefferson County, and Boulder and Longmont in Boulder County.

To request an initial consultation call (303) 725-0017.

Back to top