Understanding California's Definition of Involuntary Manslaughter | Temecula, Murrieta and Riverside Criminal Defense Attorney

California state law describes involuntary manslaughter as the unintentional killing that occurs while committing a non-violent crime or reckless behavior that resulted in the death of another human being. In the latter case, the reckless conduct takes place during legal activities. In California, the crimes of vehicular homicide and involuntary manslaughter are separate matters that are subject to different types of punishment. Prosecutors are often quick to push for an involuntary manslaughter charge, but they must prove that the circumstances warrant such a charge.

Intent is Off the Table

To be convicted of involuntary manslaughter, a person only needs to act in a way that a jury agrees was reckless enough to cause the death of someone else. Prosecutors do not have to prove that the person intended to hurt or kill the individual who died.

A good example of this is the singer Michael Jackson. Dr. Conrad Murray prescribed sedative drugs that Mr. Jackson took shortly before he died. Although his actions were not illegal, the prosecution argued and the jury agreed that Dr. Murray acted recklessly by ignoring indications that the sedatives could have a serious negative affect on Mr. Jackson. Although he didn't deliberately plan Mr. Jackson's death or intend for it to happen, Conrad Murray was nonetheless convicted for the crime of involuntary manslaughter.

Sentencing for Involuntary Manslaughter in California

One of the following conditions must be present for a person to be guilty of involuntary manslaughter:

  • He or she caused the death of someone else while committing a non-dangerous crime.
  • He or she engaged in a lawful act that could knowingly cause death without exercising due caution.

California sentencing guidelines allow for two, three, or four years in prison and fines up to $10,000 for an involuntary manslaughter conviction.

Secure Your Legal Defense

If you have been charged with involuntary manslaughter, contact us at The Law Office of Nicolai Cocis for a free consultation. Our criminal defense attorneys are available to help you fight the charge.

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