When thinking of a criminal act such as manslaughter, what usually comes to mind is a person intentionally taking someone’s life in a fit of anger. What is less known is a person can be charged for manslaughter even if the death of the victim was an accident or unintended. This charge is what is called involuntary manslaughter and can carry harsh penalties.
What is Involuntary Manslaughter?
In general, this charge applies to the unplanned killing that was a result of criminal negligence, recklessness, or a misdemeanor or felony. This is separated from voluntary manslaughter because the death is unintended, rather than the person making the active choice with malice to cause a death.
More specifically, three criterions must be met. They include:
- A person was killed because of another’s actions
- The actions of the defendant were innately dangerous to other person(s) or done with “reckless disregard of human life”
- It was clear, or should have been clear, to the defendant that their actions were threatening to the lives of others.
If one of these aspects is not apparent, then it is more than likely murder, not involuntary manslaughter, which carries its own penalties. As stated above, the key to involuntary manslaughter is a lack of malice. If any sort of malice can be proven, it will be charged under a different statute. An example of this charge is if someone was “jokingly” pointing a gun at a friend and the gun was shot accidentally, causing the death of the other. In this example, it would be considered involuntary manslaughter.
What are the Charges for Involuntary Manslaughter?
While the death of the person was unintentional, a conviction for involuntary manslaughter carries severe penalties that can have lasting effects on a person. In the state of Nebraska, involuntary manslaughter is classified as a felony, which brings severe punishments if you are convicted. If you are charged with involuntary manslaughter, it is important that you contact a dedicated involuntary manslaughter attorney immediately so they can begin building a defense and provide you with the best course of action..
Do I Have a Defense?
In the case of involuntary manslaughter, the prosecution holds the burden of proof when charging the defendant. They must be able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the killing occurred because of the defendant’s negligence, recklessness, or illegal actions. Usually, it also must be proven that the defendant was aware that their actions were endangering another person’s life. Other defenses include arguing how severe the defendant’s negligence was and if the killing occurred by accident in self-defense.
Berry Law’s Involuntary Manslaughter Attorneys
The charges of involuntary manslaughter can be life-altering, not to mention the severe mental anguish that can result from taking a life incidentally. The dedicated involuntary manslaughter lawyers at Berry Law are experienced in criminal law and can aid you in achieving the best outcome for your case. Our attorneys can help you navigate the confusing world of criminal law and lay out your best options. Call 402-466-8444 to schedule a consultation today.