Involuntary Manslaughter in Pennsylvania
Facing Involuntary Manslaughter Charges in Pennsylvania
Learn about what involuntary manslaughter is in Pennsylvania and what to do if you or a loved one is facing accusations or criminal homicide charges. Facing involuntary manslaughter is a pivotable moment in a person’s life. Is it the time to reach out to an inexperienced criminal attorney or a former prosecutor who touts his convictions but lacks experience gaining murder acquittals? Before it’s too late, call our team. Facing involuntary manslaughter charges anywhere in Pennsylvania and need help, call the Ciccarelli Legal Team at (610) 692-8700.
Getting the Best Defense where you are facing Involuntary Manslaughter Charges
Reach out to the Ciccarelli Legal Team, when you are facing a involuntary manslaughter allegation in the greater Philadelphia metro area, including Chester County, Bucks County, Delaware County, Lancaster County, Montgomery County and throughout Pennsylvania. Then ask yourself, why you are not calling now and scheduling a time to meet with us. Call now at (610) 692-8700.
Our legal team of lawyers at Ciccarelli Law Offices is ready to fight for you. When the threat of prosecution for homicide and murder is real, you need to look for the best options and find a top murder defense team serving Chester County and beyond. Based in West Chester (Chester County) in the Philadelphia Metro Area, the Ciccarelli Legal Team defends the rights of murder and homicide defendants throughout Pennsylvania.
Understanding Involuntary Manslaughter
When a person dies through the unintentional recklessness or criminal negligence of another, there could be charges of involuntary manslaughter. The distinction between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter basically lies in intent.
As an example, suppose a man arrives home unexpectedly to find his wife in bed with another man. If the husband grabs a gun from the closet in response, and, in the heat of the moment, shoots the other man, then he would likely be charged with voluntary manslaughter.
While there was no premeditation, the husband nevertheless could have walked away from the scene without taking the life of another. If, however, the husband walked in on his wife and another man, went to a bar to drown his sorrows, then drove recklessly while impaired, accidentally hitting and killing a pedestrian, he would be charged with involuntary manslaughter.
Elements of Involuntary Manslaughter
Involuntary manslaughter often comes in the wake of a deadly car crash, in which one driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol or was driving in a particularly reckless manner. In order to convict a person of involuntary manslaughter, the following elements must be present:
- There must have been a death as the direct result of the defendant’s actions.
- The act committed by the defendant must have either been inherently dangerous to others (i.e., driving while intoxicated has a significant chance of injuring another person) or the act must have been committed with reckless disregard for human life (driving through a school zone at 75 mph right when school is letting out).
- The defendant must have been aware that the conduct he or she was engaging in could potentially kill another person.
Manslaughter Charges vs. Murder Charges
The primary difference between manslaughter—whether voluntary or involuntary—and murder mostly lies in intent. Manslaughter is the unintentional killing of another person, even if irresponsible or reckless behavior is the cause of the death. Murder, on the other hand, requires intent. If the operator of a theme park ride fails to ensure all passengers are strapped in, and a death results, the operator could be charged with involuntary manslaughter. If that same operator deliberately placed an object on the tracks of the ride, knowing the object would cause the ride to derail and potentially kill passengers, he or she would likely be charged with murder.
Murder charges could potentially arise from an unintentional killing, if that death occurred during the commission of another felony—while there may have been no specific intent to kill another human being, the person committing the felony could reasonably assume that another person could be injured or killed during that crime. Involuntary manslaughter involves no criminal intent, therefore a person who runs a red light, killing a pedestrian could be charged with involuntary manslaughter. In the same vein, a landlord who fails to ensure the heating system is working correctly, resulting in a fire and subsequent death could also be charged with involuntary manslaughter.
Penalties for Involuntary Manslaughter in Pennsylvania
Although involuntary manslaughter is not nearly as serious a crime as murder, you could still face prison time and other penalties if you are convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Typically, most instances of involuntary manslaughter in the state of Pennsylvania are considered first-degree misdemeanors, resulting in fines as large as $10,000 and up to five years in prison. Although Pennsylvania offers a “general” definition of involuntary manslaughter, it also details specific types of manslaughter which are associated with operating a motor vehicle.
These criminal acts are referred to as vehicular homicide. Vehicular homicide is operating a vehicle in a reckless manner or in a grossly negligent manner, in violation of a law or ordinance related to the operation of a motor vehicle. As an example, speeding or intoxication which directly lead to the death of another person could result in charges of vehicular homicide. A conviction for vehicular homicide in the state of Pennsylvania can result in an additional term of up to five years in prison.
You may wonder how gross negligence or recklessness is actually shown. To prove either of these elements, your actions will be compared with an established standard of care that a reasonable person would have presumably followed. The issue could also be whether you purposefully ignored a known danger, continuing an activity even though it was apparent significant risks were involved.
Two Categories of Involuntary Manslaughter in the State of Pennsylvania
In the state of Pennsylvania, there are two separate categories for involuntary manslaughter charges which are:
- When the involuntary manslaughter includes the death of a child under the age of 12 who was in the care, custody or control of the person who caused the death, the offense can be charged as a second-degree felony.
- All other cases of involuntary manslaughter are first-degree misdemeanors.
The category of your involuntary manslaughter charges is of utmost importance—a second-degree felony conviction for involuntary manslaughter can result in up to ten years in prison, while a first-degree misdemeanor involuntary manslaughter conviction can result in up to five years in prison.
Get The “Right Defense” When facing Pennsylvania Involuntary Manslaughter Charges
When you or a loved one is facing involuntary manslaughter allegations or charges, gain the benefit and experience of the Ciccarelli Legal Team. We bring years of experience defending clients, demanding justice and fighting for acquittals. Our team is ready to represent you when you are facing homicide and murder charges in Pennsylvania. We are based in based in suburban Philadelphia and serve clients throughout Pennsylvania. Contact us at (610) 692-8700.