Involuntary manslaughter, also known as criminally negligent manslaughter, is how the law deals with deaths that occur due to accidents. The law doesn't place the same level of responsibility on a defendant who didn't intend for a death to occur but who still acted inappropriately and caused a person to die.
Involuntary manslaughter can occur either when a person is accidentally killed due to someone else's criminal negligence or when the person is killed during the commission of another crime, where the intent was not to cause bodily injury or death. Unlike a murder charge, involuntary manslaughter means that a person had no intention of killing someone, but their careless or reckless actions caused someone to die.
Manslaughter and Poor Driving
A common way involuntary manslaughter charges can arise is vehicular homicide. Drinking and driving kills passengers, other drivers, and innocent bystanders, as does texting and driving. If you kill someone by operating a vehicle while intoxicated or texting in Indiana, you can be found guilty of involuntary manslaughter or reckless homicide.
Civil Penalties for Involuntary Manslaughter
If an accused person is found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter in criminal court, the victim's family may still file a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court. Wrongful death cases often follow criminal trials, but the burden of proof is lower in civil court . A defendant can be found liable for wrongful death, but not be convicted of any crime associated with the death. For example, O.J. Simpson was found not guilty of murdering his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her boyfriend, Ronald Goldman, but was found legally liable for their deaths in the following wrongful death suit.
Indiana's involuntary manslaughter law is outlined below.
Indiana Code Section 35-42-1-4: Involuntary Manslaughter
|What is Prohibited?
Indiana law prohibits two different types of involuntary manslaughter:
- The killing of another human or a fetus while committing or attempting a Level 5 or 6 felony, Class A felony or a battery that could result in serious bodily injury.
- The killing of a human or fetus from operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
The sentencing range for Level 5 felonies in Indiana is 1-6 years of incarceration and a fine up to $10,000.
Additionally, when a person is convicted of involuntary manslaughter resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle, his or her driving privileges shall be suspended for 2-5 years, depending on the recommendation of the court.
A civil wrongful death lawsuit is possible. If you're served with papers about this, contact an experienced personal injury defense attorney for help.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Research the Law
The following links provide additional information about Indiana involuntary manslaughter laws and related concepts:
Charged with Involuntary Manslaughter in Indiana? Contact an Attorney
If you or someone you love has been arrested and charged with a violation of Indiana's involuntary manslaughter law, you should seek legal representation immediately. A skilled Indiana criminal defense lawyer will understand the nuances of the law, be able to advise you on any available defenses, and advocate on your behalf.