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Involuntary Manslaughter

Involuntary manslaughter in California happens when an individual unintentionally kills another without due caution and circumspection. Involuntary manslaughter is defined under Penal Code Section 192 (b) PC and is caused by an unlawful act that could not be considered as a felony but has the potential to produce death. Involuntary manslaughter results in death without the initial intent to kill, and therefore it is an act that is unintentional. Although involuntary manslaughter is a slighter charge as opposed to voluntary manslaughter, it is still a very serious offense with grave consequences. If you or a loved one has been charged with the crime of involuntary manslaughter, it is important that you pursue the legal help of an advocate with comprehensive knowledge and experience who knows the proper definition of involuntary manslaughter.

The Elements of California Involuntary Manslaughter

  • You committed a California infringement, misdemeanor, crime that is not a characteristically dangerous felony, or a legal act was done criminally,
  • there was an element of criminal negligence when you committed the act or crime, and
  • as a consequence of your action, another person died.

Involuntary manslaughter based on legal duty

Death grounded on failure to execute a legal duty is a type of involuntary manslaughter. However, the description of this crime is somewhat different. The elements of involuntary manslaughter based on failure to perform a legal duty are:

  • You had a lawful duty towards the victim,
  • You ruined the execution of that legal duty,
  • Your failure qualifies as criminally negligent, and
  • The failure caused the death of the victim.

The judge in an involuntary manslaughter is the one who decides whether someone had a “legal duty” to someone else, not a jury. Cases of situations that give rise to legal duty are:

  • A paid custodian's association with the individual they are caring for
  • The parent-child association
  • The association between two persons, where one has “assumed responsibility” for the other

Involuntary Manslaughter Prosecution

If you are apprehended on charges of involuntary manslaughter, it is important to have an involuntary manslaughter attorney on your side taking care of your legal rights and assisting you to put up a strong case. The prosecution will be determined to charge you with the most severe manslaughter conviction possible. Also, the prosecution will not stop short of charging you with the harshest manslaughter sentence possible, accusing you to the fullest extent. For you to safeguard your future and freedom, it is vital that you have a skilled and knowledgeable involuntary manslaughter advocate fighting for your rights.

Demonstrating Involuntary Manslaughter Charges

For the prosecution to convict you of an involuntary manslaughter verdict under California Penal Code 192 (b), they must demonstrate that an unlawful killing happened in the course of the commission of an unlawful act that could not be considered as a felony but has the potential to produce death. In order to know the procedures and requirements that could result in a conviction, there are different prosecution terms that you must first understand because they will be used by the prosecution to establish that you are criminally liable for the act.

Unlawful Act

An “unlawful act” that does not qualify to be a felony is either an infraction or a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is an offense whose penalty is less than one year in the county jail, and an infraction is a petty crime that is only punishable by a fine, for instance, a speeding ticket.  An involuntary manslaughter verdict does not need the unlawful act to be intrinsically unsafe. But the act should be hazardous under the conditions of its commission. The criminal liability for this offense comes from the way in which you perform the act.

For instance, Mark has no medical license of any type but practices medicine as a faith healer.  George, a leukemia patient, comes to Mark for treatment.  Mark performs massages on George regularly claiming that they are a cure for cancer. Unfortunately, the massages cause internal bleeding to George that eventually kills him. Mark exterminated George in the course of committing the crime of unsanctioned practice of medicine, which is a felony, but it is not inherently dangerous. Mark will, therefore, be charged with Penal Code 192 (b) involuntary manslaughter.

Without due circumspection and caution

“Without due caution and circumspection” largely denotes to criminal negligence and the California Criminal Jury is instructed accordingly on matters relating to involuntary manslaughter. Criminal negligence is generally described as an irresponsible action that is a dangerous departure from the way a rational individual would act. For the prosecution to prove that your actions lacked circumspection or caution, it must prove the victim died as a consequence of a realistically predictable outcome of your negligent, aggravated, or reckless conduct.

For instance, Jane leaves her four children alone at home and goes out to a bar. A fire breaks out while she is away and kills one of her children. Jane cannot be charged with involuntary manslaughter since her actions were not criminally negligent. The probabilities of a fire happening in the house while she was gone were very small, and she could not realistically have anticipated that death or injury would occur as consequence of her actions.

Involuntary Manslaughter Penalties & Sentencing

Punishment and sentencing for involuntary manslaughter might be severe, requiring you to seek the best legal assistance you can get. Your involuntary manslaughter defense attorney might assist you to fight against the severe and occasionally devastating encounters that come with criminal charges. Involuntary manslaughter is always a felony under California law. Involuntary manslaughter can attract a punishment by incarceration for two (2), three (3) 0r four (4) years. Additionally, you face a fine of a maximum of ten thousand dollars (US$ 10,000) on conviction of involuntary manslaughter. You may serve your sentence for involuntary manslaughter in jail as opposed to state prison, under California’s realignment legislation. The realignment legislation, which was introduced in 2011 under Assembly Bill (AB) 109, altered the sentence structure for more than five hundred transgressions in California, by permitting such faults to be penalized by jail time instead of prison time.

Prior to the realignment, the only punishment available for involuntary manslaughter offenders was a state prison term of two (2), three (3) or four (4) years.  This changed after realignment, and now involuntary manslaughter attracts imprisonment of two, three or four years in the county jail according to California Penal Code 1170 (h). Additionally, the court has the discretion to permit you to serve a section of your sentence in jail and then ask that you serve the rest of the sentence under compulsory observation by a county probation official.

Civil Consequences

California Code of Civil Procedure 377.60-377.62

If you are being charged with involuntary manslaughter, you could also end up being civilly answerable if you are charged with the unlawful death. The family of the deceased could bring up a wrongful death suit if the victim’s cause of death was due to your negligent or wrongful actions. If you are established to be liable for the unlawful death of another individual, you face the likelihood of having to pay a huge sum of money for damages. The penalties for wrongful death may be enforced together with the criminal punishments and fines related with involuntary manslaughter.

Additional Penalties

In addition to substantial fines and jail time, you might also forego additional privileges after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Under California Penal Code 12021, if you are sentenced for any felony in California, you lose the right to possess, own, or purchase a firearm and this means losing any state license you presently have. California state licensing organizations are able to take away your licensing freedoms if you are sentenced for an offense. If you killed someone by accident using a dangerous weapon or firearm and you are convicted of involuntary manslaughter, the conviction would serve as a strike on your record pursuant to California’s three strikes law.

Defenses to Involuntary Manslaughter California Penal Code 192(b)

The fact that you have been apprehended on charges of Penal code 192(b) involuntary manslaughter does not automatically mean that you will be sentenced. Nonetheless, for you to protect your rights, it is vital that you retain an involuntary manslaughter defense lawyer to construct the best possible defense in your case.  Contingent on the particular evidence of your case, there are numerous legal defenses that your attorney can present if you have been charged with involuntary manslaughter California Penal Code 192(b). The following are some of the most common defenses that can be applied against the involuntary manslaughter charges.

Self Defense and Defense of Others

You might have a defense to involuntary manslaughter if you were acting in self-defense or in the defense of someone else when the alleged killing happened. Self-defense laws in California allows killing of someone if you realistically believed that ending the person’s life was essential to avert death or great physical injury to you or to another individual. For this defense to work, your involuntary manslaughter attorney should be able to show that you believed that you had to act immediately to prevent danger, you acted rationally under the conditions and that you did not employ excessive force than it was required to protect yourself or to protect someone else. This type of defense is frequently used in situations where you are facing a murder charge since you are acting in self-defense or defense of someone else and by accident killed another individual. In a situation such as this, a self-defense claim may be used to minimize the severity of the charge. For instance, a murder charge can be altered to involuntary manslaughter.

The killing was an accident

Come to think of it, one would be excused to think that all involuntary manslaughter are accidents, since they largely involve circumstances where the defendant had not intended to kill the victim. However if the respondent was not engaged in any transgression and was not acting with “criminal negligence”, then the legal defense of accident can relate to involuntary manslaughter charges. For you to argue innocence on account of the accident defense, you will need to be able to show that;

  • At the time of the accidental killing, you were not acting with criminal negligence,
  • You had no criminal intention to cause harm and
  • You only engaged in a legal activity at the time of the accident.

Insufficient evidence to convict you

Occasionally, a situation arises where the involuntary manslaughter case appears to be straightforward, prompting the police to make a quick decision regarding the death. Afterwards, they take their case to the prosecutor who buys into their account without question. Situations such as this make it even more critical to hire a knowledgeable California criminal defense attorney to fight involuntary manslaughter charges. Accomplished criminal defense attorneys conduct their own investigations. They devote their time and means to interview witnesses, reassess proof, and refer to independent criminal defense experts to expose what really occurred.

You were wrongfully arrested or falsely accused

Correspondingly, individuals regularly deceitfully accuse others of committing involuntary manslaughter. Perhaps the friends or family members of the “victim” want to lessen their role in the death, by accusing it all on someone else.  Sometimes, somebody is blaming the defendant due to anger, jealousy, or in order to exercise revenge. In any case, this is a different situation where an experienced criminal defense attorney with knowledge in homicide cases, who knows the risks and how significant technical details are, can be enormously valuable in fighting the charges.

Why you need a good attorney

If someone dies particularly under circumstances that can be described as suspicious, prosecutors and law enforcement officers are destined to get involved. Publics want to hold someone accountable.  And frequently as a result of the high expectations from the public, they jump to decision or conduct investigations in a rush, causing innocent individuals to fight against illegal involuntary manslaughter charges. Cases involving involuntary manslaughter are often complex in nature. Whether you are facing a misdemeanor or felony, do not risk a conviction. A conviction will have adverse impacts on your freedom, reputation, and future. Thus, it’s imperative to take quick actions to redeem your reputation and safeguard your criminal record by getting the services of competent criminal defense attorneys. At Pasadena Criminal Attorney, our team is knowledgeable about how prosecutors will attempt to use involuntary manslaughter’s definition to their advantage. We can assist you to develop the best possible defense for your case. For a free, confidential consultation with one of our highly experienced attorneys, call us today at 626-689-2277 or fill out our contact form.

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