An unintentional killing caused by criminal carelessness, recklessness, or committing an offense like a DUI is typically referred to as “involuntary manslaughter.” In contrast to voluntary manslaughter, accidental murder results in the victim’s death. What is involuntary manslaughter and how does it differ from voluntary manslaughter are described below.
Charges of involuntary manslaughter, sometimes known as “criminally negligent homicide,” are frequently brought after a fatal car accident that was caused by a driver who was intoxicated or high. Even though the driver had no intention of killing anyone, the accusation can still be upheld due to their recklessness in doing so while under the influence. Vehicle manslaughter is a distinct category of manslaughter that some states recognize.
The use of a vehicle is not required for involuntary manslaughter. For instance, if a dangerous carnival ride’s operator doesn’t make sure that everyone is buckled in and people die as a result, the operator may be charged with involuntary manslaughter. A building management could also be punished with involuntary manslaughter for willfully failing to install smoke detectors prior to the start of a fatal fire.
Although it is penalized less harshly than other types of homicide, involuntary manslaughter is nonetheless a serious crime. For instance, involuntary manslaughter is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor in Pennsylvania. If the carer of a child under 12 commits this, they are charged with a second-degree crime, which carries a term of up to five years in jail (with a possible prison sentence of up to 10 years upon conviction).
Manslaughter: Voluntary vs. Involuntary
Despite sharing the same name, manslaughter is a rather broad term. Typically, voluntary manslaughter entails a murder committed in the heat of the moment. For instance, it would probably be voluntary manslaughter if Adam suddenly grabs a fire iron and slams Bill to death during a heated argument. Adam shouldn’t be prosecuted with murder, even in the second degree, because his “heat of passion” defense diminishes the moral guilt.
In contrast, involuntary manslaughter refers to unintentional deaths, such as car accidents brought on by drunk drivers. Additionally, killing someone unintentionally while executing a robbery, kidnapping, or other “inherently dangerous” act is typically regarded as murder rather than manslaughter.
An illustration would be when thieves are attempting to flee the scene of a crime and accidentally run over a pedestrian while being chased by police in a high-speed pursuit. Although the pedestrian’s death was unintentional, robbery-related charges for murder would probably be brought against the driver. However, voluntary manslaughter is the unintentional killing that deserves the greatest attention.
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