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Delaware Involuntary Manslaughter Law

In Delaware, there are six types of criminal homicide: first-degree murder, second-degree murder, murder by abuse or neglect, manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, and vehicular homicide. This article provides a brief overview of Delaware's involuntary manslaughter laws, namely Delaware's criminally negligent homicide and vehicular homicide laws.

What's Involuntary Manslaughter?

Involuntary manslaughter generally refers to an unintentional killing that results from criminal negligence or an unlawful act that is a misdemeanor or low-level felony (such as driving under the influence (DUI)). Generally, the key difference between involuntary manslaughter and voluntary manslaughter is whether or not the victim's death was intended. In Delaware, involuntary manslaughter is subdivided into criminally negligent homicide, first-degree vehicular homicide, and second-degree vehicular homicide.

Criminally Negligent Homicide

Code Section

Delaware Code section 631: Criminally Negligent Homicide

What's Prohibited?

A person is guilty of criminally negligent homicide when, with criminal negligence, the person causes the death of another person.

Penalties

Criminally negligent homicide is a class D felony.

Vehicular homicide

Code Section

Delaware Code section 630A: Vehicular Homicide in the First Degree

What's Prohibited?

A person is guilty of vehicular homicide in the first degree when, while driving or operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs or with a prohibited alcohol or drug content, the person's criminally negligent driving or operation of the vehicle causes the death of another person.

Penalties

Vehicular homicide in the first degree is a class C felony.

Code Section

Delaware Code section 630: Vehicular Homicide in the Second Degree

What's Prohibited?

A person is guilty of vehicular homicide in the second degree when:
  • While driving or operating a motor vehicle, the person's criminally negligent driving or operation of the vehicle causes the death of another person, or
  • While driving or operating a motor vehicle, under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a prohibited alcohol or drug content, the person's negligent driving or operation of the vehicle causes the death of another person

Penalties

Vehicular homicide in the second degree is a class D felony.

Common Defenses to Involuntary Manslaughter

While there are many possible defenses to an involuntary manslaughter charge, some of the most common defenses are:

  • It was in self-defense
  • It was an accident
  • The prosecution has insufficient evidence
  • I was falsely accused / wrongfully arrested

For additional information about these defenses read FindLaw's section on Involuntary Manslaughter Defenses.

Additional Resources

State laws change frequently. For case specific information regarding Delaware's involuntary manslaughter law contact a local criminal defense lawyer.

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