Involuntary manslaughter can defined in several different ways, depending on the circumstances of a case. While involuntary manslaughter may, of course, be involuntary, it may also include a deliberate act.
In some situations resulting in a death, the death was an accident or a caused by a careless individual. However, even in circumstances where a deliberate act caused a death, the charge of involuntary manslaughter may still apply.
Involuntary manslaughter may be the end result of a failure to carry out a legal duty specifically required to protect a human life or from the commission of an illegal act that is not a felony. The charge may also be laid as a result of the commission of a lawful act improperly or negligently carried out. In either case, a prosecuting attorney must corroborate two elements to prove the crime of involuntary manslaughter –- that a human was killed and the killing was unlawful.
An illegal killing is defined by the commission of an act, normally lawful, involving great risk of death or bodily harm, done without due care, circumspection and caution. The killing must also be perpetrated during an unlawful act (not a felony), dangerous to human life given the situation surrounding its commission.
A deliberate act causing death was the focal point of a Midwest case that resulted in a 23-year-old’s manslaughter conviction The defendant was at a party and struck another individual in the head with a beer bottle. The victim later died as a result of the blunt force trauma, which caused a blood clot in his brain. When the case was first tried, it ended with a hung jury. Jury members could not agree whether the defendant acted recklessly — or merely with reasonable force to allegedly assist a friend he perceived to be in a dangerous situation.
The case was retried, and the defendant was convicted on the basis of DNA evidence that showed that the beer bottle used to assault the victim was not the same bottle from which the defendant was drinking, which proved that he acted in a deliberate and reckless manner. He acquired a second bottle as a weapon as part of a distinct decision.
This particular area of law is complex, and depending on the circumstances of the case at hand, it may result in some unexpected outcomes. If you have been charged with involuntary manslaughter, do not wait to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer.