What Is Involuntary Manslaughter?

car crash with firetruck

Manslaughter is a serious crime that occurs when someone is unlawfully and unintentionally killed. Manslaughter can be voluntary or involuntary, depending on the circumstances that led to the killing. For example, involuntary manslaughter occurs when someone is killed in an accident when the other driver was Operating While Intoxicated (OWI).

Penalties for an involuntary manslaughter conviction are severe. To give yourself the best chance of beating the charges, you need to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

What Is Manslaughter?

Manslaughter is the crime of unlawfully and unintentionally killing someone. Manslaughter is different from murder in that murder involves killing someone “with malice aforethought” meaning one person kills another with the intention to do so.

Manslaughter is the un-intentional killing of another person. While manslaughter charges are less severe than murder, penalties for a manslaughter conviction are severe and the charge should be taken seriously.

What Is the Difference Between Involuntary and Voluntary Manslaughter?

The crime of manslaughter can be broken down even further. Manslaughter can be voluntary or involuntary.

Voluntary manslaughter occurs when someone kills someone else intentionally, but without premeditation. A common scenario is a killing that occurs in the “heat of passion.” The suspect intended to kill the victim, but did not plan it. Typically, in cases of voluntary manslaughter the suspect is provoked and then takes steps to kill someone else.

Involuntary manslaughter occurs when someone acts with disregard for the life of another, but the killing occurs without premeditation and without the intent to kill, but death nonetheless results.

Involuntary manslaughter, sometimes called criminally negligent homicide, is an unintentional killing that is the result of criminal negligence or recklessness. This commonly occurs in cases of OWI, when someone is killed in a car crash while the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

What Are the Penalties for Involuntary Manslaughter in Michigan?

While involuntary manslaughter is the least severe type of homicide, it is still a serious crime that carries severe penalties. In Michigan, it is a felony with a sentence that can result in up to 15 years in prison, a fine of up to $7,500, and restitution for the victim’s family.

Defenses to a Charge of Involuntary Manslaughter

There are four primary defenses to a charge of involuntary manslaughter:

  • Accident - the defendant did not act irresponsibly or could not reasonably know that his actions could result in another person’s death
  • Self Defense - the defendant reasonably believed that he was defending himself from imminent death or serious harm
  • Insufficient Evidence - the prosecution does not have enough evidence to prove that the defendant caused the victim’s death
  • Wrongful Accusation - the prosecution has the wrong person

What Can I Do If I’m Facing Involuntary Manslaughter Charges?

If you have been charged with manslaughter, you need to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. Manslaughter charges are serious, and you need an attorney who can defend you and protect you from the harshest criminal penalties, false accusations, and an unjust sentence.

At Elmen Legal I believe that everyone is innocent is proven guilty and that everyone is entitled to a vigorous criminal defense. I know that a manslaughter charge is a stressful situation that can affect you, your loved ones, and others who depend on you. A conviction for involuntary manslaughter can have a profound effect on you, your future, and your family. That’s why I work hard to defend my clients at every stage of the criminal process, protecting their rights and guiding them through the legal process.

While I take a caring and compassionate approach to defending my clients, I am aggressive when I need to be, especially when dealing with the most difficult prosecutors. I will thoroughly investigate your case and work to have the charges against you reduced or dismissed by exposing any mistakes the police or prosecutor made.

If you have been charged with involuntary manslaughter in Michigan, Elmen Legal can help. I’m here to assist you through what might be one of the most stressful times in your life. I pride myself on taking care of you as an individual, not just as another client. I will advise you on how the law applies to your case and help you understand any additional consequences that could result from a conviction.

Together we will mount a vigorous defense. I will start with a thorough analysis of your unique situation, and will represent you in court and try to have the charges against you dismissed or reduced. If we need to go to trial, I will be your advocate, arguing to the judge and jury why they should return a Not Guilty verdict.

Learn more about Ann Arbor criminal defense attorney Robert Elmen, get answers to Frequently Asked Questions and read reviews from former clients, and contact me today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.