Involuntary manslaughter is covered under California Penal Code Section § 192(b), and basically occurs when a person kills another unintentionally. In other words, it's when a person kills someone else, but they did not specifically intend to kill them, and did not kill in a manner that showed a total lack of respect for human life.
If you have been accused of involuntary manslaughter, contact a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney at Eisner Gorin LLP immediately. Early intervention by our law firm can have a substantial impact on the outcome of your case. There are several legal defenses to involuntary manslaughter charges based on the circumstances of your case.
You could be charged with involuntary manslaughter if you unintentionally kill another person while you commit a crime that is not an inherently dangerous felony offense, or you commit a lawful act which could produce death, without using due caution. It's important to make a key distinction here: Under California Penal Code Section 192(b), the key element of involuntary manslaughter is that it doesn't require “intent” to kill someone else.
This is quite different than murder charges under California Penal Code Section 187, which legally requires “malice aforethought.” Additionally, involuntary manslaughter laws in California don't include conduct that involves the use of a vehicle, which are covered under California's vehicular manslaughter laws.
A common example of involuntary manslaughter charges in Los Angeles County includes situations in domestic violence related incidents. During a heated argument, a wife gets her gun to protect herself and points it at her husband who is threatening her. During a struggle over the weapon, the gun accidentally discharges, resulting in his death.
A more notable example can be found in the death of Michael Jackson, where his doctor was charged with involuntary manslaughter. Dr. Conrad Murray case was based on his excessive prescription of sedative drugs, where Los Angeles County prosecutors only need to prove he acted recklessly or carelessly, not that he intended to kill. He was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for prescribing Michael Jackson a surgical anesthetic that eventually killed him.
See related YouTube video of attorney Dmitry Gorin as a legal analyst.He was sentenced to four 4 years in jail. Now that we have covered a basic overview of California involuntary manslaughter charges, let's take a more thorough review of the legal definition, penalties and defenses below.
Legal Definition of Involuntary Manslaughter
Under California Penal Code Section 192(b), the legal definition of involuntary manslaughter is as follows:
“(b) Involuntary - in the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to a felony; or in the commission of a lawful act which might produce death, in an unlawful manner, or without due caution and circumspection.”
As stated above, this subdivision under manslaughter laws in California does not apply to acts committed in the driving of a vehicle. Under PC 192(b), the legal definition includes certain “elements of the crime" that must be proven by the Los Angeles County prosecutor in order to obtain a conviction. These elements of the crime include:
- You committed an act that presented a high degree of risk of great bodily injury or death; or
- You committed the act with criminal negligence; and
- Your acts caused the death of another person
It should be noted the “act” is not necessarily a crime, but was done in an unlawful manner. Involuntary manslaughter cases will require that the prosecutor prove that you acted with “criminal negligence.” What does this mean? Criminal negligence is much more than simply being careless or making a mistake.
It means you acted in a reckless manner that created a substantial risk of death or great bodily injury, and that any reasonable person would have known the actions would create this type of risk. Your actions that “caused” the death of another person means the death was the direct or probable consequence of your act, and it would not have happened without your act. Contact a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at our law firm for additional information.
Involuntary manslaughter is always a felony offense in California. If you are convicted of violating California Penal Code Section 192(b), the legal penalties include 2, 3, or 4 years in a California state prison, felony probation, and a fine up to $10,000. If your act that killed another person involved the use of a firearm or other deadly weapon, your conviction will be considered a “strike” under California's “Three Strikes Law”.
Our Los Angeles criminal defense law firm can use a wide range of legal strategies to defend you against charges of involuntary manslaughter. We understand that every case has its own unique set of facts and circumstances. When someone is killed, police are prosecutors are typically required to get involved in the incident and often rush to judgment to obtain a conviction. Our criminal defense lawyers will thoroughly review the details of you case and could use several legal defenses. These include:
Accident – Even though most cases of involuntary manslaughter are incidents where someone did not specifically intend to kill the victim, our criminal lawyers might be able to show a true accident caused the victim's death. In other words, your act was done legally, without criminal negligence. In order for our attorneys to prove it was an accident, we would need to show you did not have criminal intent to harm the victim, weren't acting criminal negligence, and were engaged in lawful conduct at the time of the accident that caused the death.
Self Defense – In some cases, our criminal attorneys might be able to prove you were acting in self defense, or defense of another person. In simple terms, your life, or another person's life was placed in an immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury by someone else and you only acted in self defense. Under California law, you can use reasonable force to protect yourself as long you had a reasonable belief the force was necessary to defend you against the danger, and your force was no more than necessary to defend yourself against the danger. This legal defense is based on the court's conclusion that the killing of another person under these same circumstances was justified.
False Accusation – In some cases, our attorneys might be able to present evidence that you were falsely accused of committing involuntary manslaughter. This could occur in situations where another person attempts to deny or minimize their own involvement in the death of the victim. A false allegation can also occur in situations where someone is seeking revenge against you.
Finally, in some situations, we might be able to prove your criminally negligent act was not the actual cause of the victim's death.
Under California laws, there are a variety of related criminal offenses to involuntary manslaughter. These include:
California Penal Code Section 192(a) - Voluntary Manslaughter California Penal Code Section 192(c) – Vehicular Manslaughter California Penal Code Section 191.5 – Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated California Penal Code Section 187 – Murder
Contact a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you are under criminal investigation, or already charged with involuntary manslaughter, contact a skilled Los Angeles criminal defense attorney at Eisner Gorin LLP immediately. A conviction can not only result in harsh legal consequences, it can impact your personal and professional life for many years.
Our law firm will conduct our own independent investigation, interview witnesses, and thoroughly examine evidence to formulate an effective defense strategy. Early intervention into your case by our law firm is critical and my have a substantial impact on the outcome. We are expert courtroom negotiators and may be able get your charges reduced to a lesser offense, or even dismissed. We offer a free immediate response. Contact us at 877-781-1570.