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What is involuntary manslaughter, and how is it committed?

On Behalf of | Nov 4, 2022 | Violent Crimes

Homicide crimes are charged at the most severe level in California. A person could face involuntary manslaughter charges if they kill someone without intent. This is what you should know about the crime.

Understanding involuntary manslaughter

Involuntary manslaughter is the killing of another person while lacking intent. It differs from voluntary manslaughter, which occurs when a person suddenly kills someone else during the heat of the moment. Certain elements to involuntary manslaughter must be established in a case: the defendant committed an unlawful or lawful act in an illegal manner, behaved with criminal negligence and caused the death of another person.

For example, suppose a person is driving, which is a lawful activity as long as they have a valid driver’s license, but drove recklessly and ran a pedestrian over, killing them. In that case, they could be charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Penalties for involuntary manslaughter

Charges of involuntary manslaughter are classified as a felony. Sometimes, a person convicted of involuntary manslaughter also faces civil charges such as a wrongful death lawsuit from the victim’s surviving family members. This could result in additional penalties that might be significant.

Defenses for involuntary manslaughter

There are common defenses to involuntary manslaughter. One is that the act was done in self-defense. If the defense can prove that the victim had attacked them first, this argument might work. Claiming wrongful accusations is another common defense in involuntary manslaughter cases. The defense could also argue that there is insufficient evidence to convict or that the defendant didn’t know their actions could lead to the death of another person.

Involuntary manslaughter charges can be life-changing, so it’s best to take them seriously and be proactive about your case.