An unintentional killing that does not result while committing a felony, also known as involuntary manslaughter. Manslaughter is determined in two categories voluntary or involuntary.
The penalties and sentencing for voluntary manslaughter is more harsh than involuntary manslaughter penalties and sentencing. In general, misdemeanors are crimes that are less than a felony and that are generally punishable by a fine or less than one year in jail.
Most states follow the rule that any killing that happens during any misdemeanor can lead to a misdemeanor manslaughter charge. However, some states only allow a manslaughter charge for only serious misdemeanors. Therefore, it is important to determine what is defined as a felony in your state and what is defined as a misdemeanor.
This could make a big difference for cases in assigning sentencing and penalties. One of the main purposes to have a distinction between the different degrees of killings is to distinguish between the serial killer and the absent minded driver.
What are the Defenses and Punishment for Misdemeanor Manslaughter?
Misdemeanor manslaughter punishments and defenses can vary by state. This difference is seen in federal and state courts. For example, in a federal court, a person convicted of involuntary or a misdemeanor manslaughter can be sentenced to imprisonment for one to six years. However, other states may provide for a range of sentences depending on the severity of the underlying misdemeanor.
In terms of what defense is available for the defendant, a state can have their own procedure. Involuntary manslaughter does not require a showing of intent, therefore a defendant cannot use the defense that they did not intend to commit the crime.
A defendant can also argue that their actions did not constitute the necessary criminal negligence required for a more severe sentence. Also, a defendant may point to the incident as an accident and that it resulted from their careless actions.
For any case of misdemeanor manslaughter, any defense to the underlying misdemeanor also can serve as a defense to the misdemeanor manslaughter charge. For example, if the defendant is charged with misdemeanor assault which results in death, but they argue that the assault was self-defense, then this would also be a defense to a misdemeanor manslaughter charge.
Under the federal sentencing guidelines regarding involuntary manslaughter, there is a 10 to 16 month prison sentence, which can increase if the crime was committed through an act of reckless conduct. The minimum sentence for involuntary manslaughter committed with an automobile is still greater, and judges may use some discretion in those cases.
Additionally, on the state levels, they can create their own guidelines when drafting sentencing guidelines. States vary widely on this issue. Usually, states give a range of possible sentences and allow judges to practice discretion in determining which sentence to impose. In making their determination for the sentences or penalties, judges may also look to any aggravating and mitigating factors to decide how severe a sentence should be.
Aggravating factors increase the severity of the crime and include things such as the defendant’s history of reckless behavior. However, the mitigating factors generally decrease the sentence, and usually involve factors such as the defendant’s acceptance of responsibility for the crime and lack of criminal history.
Convictions of Involuntary manslaughter,or misdemeanor manslaughter will appear on a person’s criminal record. There are many consequences that can result from the convictions, such as having difficulty finding employment, restriction from onatinaign professional licenses and in some states landlords also have access to a person’s criminal record.
What are the Different Types of Involuntary Manslaughter?
Usually, there are two types of involuntary manslaughter, criminal-negligence manslaughter; and unlawful-act manslaughter. The first type of manslaughter happens when death results from a high degree of criminal negligence or criminal recklessness. The second type happens when death is caused by one who commits or attempts to commit an unlawful act, usually a misdemeanor.
Furthermore, more recent modern criminal statutes have created a new category of manslaughter called vehicular manslaughter. This only applies to deaths that occurred during the negligent operation of a motor vehicle or through the unlawful operation of a motor vehicle.
Even in states that do not have such statutes, deaths that result from drunk driving are generally prosecuted under the crime of involuntary manslaughter. But states can differ on this, it is best to research the local criminal statutes.
Do I Need a Lawyer If I Am Charged with Misdemeanor Manslaughter?
Being charged with any type of manslaughter can be serious. The sentencing and penalties will differ on federal and state levels. The convictions can result in harming societal consequences .
Therefore, it is useful to seek out a criminal lawyer to assist with understanding the charges and determining your defenses in the case. It is recommended to find a local criminal lawyer who is more well versed in your state’s criminal procedure and criminal penalties for misdemeanor manslaughter.