Involuntary Manslaughter Cases FAQ – California Penal Code Section 192(b)
Will a conviction for involuntary manslaughter result in a “strike” on my record for California’s Three Strikes law?
No. Although involuntary manslaughter is a homicide, it is not considered a “serious” or “violent” felony for the purposes of the Three Strikes law.
How are involuntary manslaughter cases different from voluntary manslaughter?
The circumstances that result in charges for voluntary manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter are different. Involuntary manslaughter is charged when you kill someone because of the unreasonableness of your actions, but voluntary manslaughter is charged when the killing was provoked by an event that caused mental or emotional distress.
In addition, voluntary manslaughter is more severely punished than involuntary manslaughter. The maximum sentence for voluntary manslaughter is 11 years in state prison, while the maximum sentence for involuntary manslaughter is four years in the county jail. Voluntary manslaughter can also potentially result in a strike on your record, while involuntary manslaughter will not.
What is “criminal negligence?”
Criminal negligence requires more than just a mistake or simple carelessness. Your actions will be deemed criminally negligent if they deviate from how a reasonable person would act, or if your act amounted to a disregard for the safety of human life. If you cause the death of another while acting with criminal negligence you may face charges of involuntary manslaughter.
Can I also incur civil liabilities for unintentionally killing a human being?
Yes. On top of manslaughter you may be subject to a wrongful death civil lawsuit. Although your personal freedom may not be in jeopardy, you may have a civil judgment for substantial monetary damages awarded against you. This means you may have to pay a large sum of money as damages related to the wrongful death suit.
Is it possible for me to have an involuntary manslaughter charge reduced to attempted involuntary manslaughter?
No. Since involuntary manslaughter is an unintentional killing, the attempt to commit it is a legal impossibility. In order to be charged with attempt you have to have intended to commit a crime.
It is also important to note that involuntary manslaughter is not a lesser included offense of voluntary manslaughter – although they are both lesser included offenses to murder.
Can I still be charged with involuntary manslaughter if I was drunk at the time I committed the act that killed a person?
Yes. If you were unaware of your actions due to voluntary intoxication, and those actions resulted in the death of another person, you may still be found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. When you cause your own intoxication to the point of unconsciousness, you are held to assume the risk that while unconscious you will commit acts that are dangerous to human life.
Additionally, if the death occurred while you were intoxicated and operating a vehicle you can also be charged with vehicular manslaughter under California Penal Code section 191.5. To be charged with vehicular manslaughter the prosecution must show that you were driving while intoxicated and that you acted with gross negligence. Vehicular manslaughter under California Penal Code section 191.5 is punishable by four, six, or ten years imprisonment.
You may also be charged with second degree murder, or with what is commonly called a “Watson Murder,” if you were driving drunk and killed another person. In order for you to be charged with a “Watson Murder,” the prosecution must show that you acted with “implied malice,” or a conscious disregard for human life when you decided to operate the vehicle while intoxicated. A conviction for “Watson Murder” is harder for the prosecution to prove than vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, but carries a prison sentence of 15 years to life.
Why should I call Wallin & Klarich to help me defend against involuntary manslaughter charges?
The attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experience successfully defending clients who have been charged with involuntary manslaughter. We will work with you to present the best possible defense under the circumstances of your case. We know that criminal charges and proceedings can be difficult and stressful, but we are here to assist you every step of the way. Call us today at 1-877-4NO-JAIL (1-877-466-5245). With offices in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, we will be there when you call.