Criminal acts such as manslaughter usually bring to mind a person intentionally killing someone. However, a person can be charged for manslaughter even if the death of the person was accidental or not intended. This type of manslaughter is what is called involuntary manslaughter and can carry harsh penalties in Georgia.
How is Involuntary Manslaughter defined?
In general, Involuntary Manslaughter is an unplanned killing that was a result of criminal negligence, recklessness, or a misdemeanor or felony. Involuntary manslaughter is separate from voluntary manslaughter because the death is not intended, as opposed to the person making an active choice with malice to cause death.
More specifically, three criteria that must be met include:
- The person was killed because of someone’s actions
- The actions taken by the defendant were innately dangerous to another person(s) or done with a “reckless disregard for human life.”
- The defendant was aware or should have been aware, that their actions threatened the lives of other people.
If one of these aspects was not apparent, then it was more than likely murder, not involuntary manslaughter, which carries its own penalties.
What are the Charges for Involuntary Manslaughter?
Even though the death of the person was not intentional, an involuntary manslaughter conviction can result in severe penalties that can have lasting effects on a person. In the state of Georgia, involuntary manslaughter is classified as a misdemeanor unless the death occurred in the commission of an unlawful act, which brings severe punishments if you are convicted.
Bob was driving while intoxicated and broadsided a man in an old pick up truck at an intersection. The older man died from his injuries. Bob was charged with involuntary manslaughter while in the commission of an unlawful act.
- If the involuntary manslaughter occurred while in the commission of an unlawful act, a person can be imprisoned for a period of one to ten years.
Dr. John Smith was performing surgery on a woman. During the operation, he fails to place a tube securely, and the patient dies. Dr. Smith was negligent in his duty and committed involuntary manslaughter.
- In the absence of commission of an unlawful act, upon conviction, a person can be imprisoned for not more than one year and subject to a $1,000 fine.
Can Involuntary Manslaughter be defended?
The prosecution has the burden of proof when charging the defendant with involuntary Manslaughter. They must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the killing occurred because of the defendant’s negligence, recklessness, or illegal actions.
If you were wrongfully arrested, or you have a valid alibi, that information can be critical to your defense. Any evidence that shows you were not the party at fault needs to be presented to an attorney immediately.
Death was accidental
Accidents can happen. Your attorney would need to prove that you did not act negligently, irresponsibly, or that you were not aware that death could result from your actions.
The prosecution must show a link between your action and the unintended killing. However, if they fail to form a relationship between the two, then you cannot be convicted.
If you or a loved one have been charged with Involuntary Manslaughter in Georgia, you need to speak with an experienced Carrollton criminal defense attorney such as Tyler Moffitt to achieve a favorable outcome to your case.
Tyler Moffitt is a Family Law and Criminal Defense Attorney who practices Carrollton, LaGrange, and Columbus, GA. He graduated from John Marshall Law School, and has been practicing for several years now. Tyler Moffitt takes great honor in defending the accused. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.