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Missouri Involuntary Manslaughter Law

Any death is tragic, and we all know that killing someone is wrong. But what happens when someone is killed largely by accident? Is it still murder? If not, is it still a crime? If it's a crime, what are the possible penalties?

Involuntary manslaughter, sometimes called criminally negligent manslaughter, occurs when a person is accidentally killed due to someone else's criminal negligence, or when someone is killed during another crime, where there was no intent 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 DWIs or Texting and Driving

Drinking and driving can kill passengers, other drivers, or innocent pedestrians. If you cause someone's death by driving while intoxicated in Missouri, you can be found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. You can also be found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for killing someone while texting and driving.

Missouri Involuntary Manslaughter Statute

The following table highlights the main provisions of Missouri's involuntary manslaughter law.

Code Sections

Missouri Revised Statutes Section 565.024

What is Prohibited?

First degree involuntary manslaughter is recklessly causing the death of another person or criminally negligently causing a person's death while operating a vehicle or boat in an intoxicated condition.

Second degree involuntary manslaughter is criminally negligently causing the death of another by a means other than intoxicated vehicle or boat operation.


First degree involuntary manslaughter can be considered a Class B or C felony, depending on who has died and under what circumstances. The penalty range for Class B felonies is 5-15 years in prison and for Class Cs it is up to 7 years in prison and a fine up to $5,000.

However, if a person has previously been convicted of a DWI involuntary manslaughter that killed two or more people or someone who was not a passenger or while the driver had a 0.18% Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC), then it's considered a Class A felony. The sentencing range for a Class A felony is 10-30 years or life in prison. In these cases, 85% of his or her prison sentence must be served.

Second degree involuntary manslaughter is a Class D felony punishable by up to 4 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Civil Case

A wrongful death lawsuit is possible, if you're served with a wrongful death lawsuit, contact an experienced personal injury defense attorney for help.

Civil Penalties for Manslaughter

Even if a person is charged with involuntary manslaughter in criminal court and is found not guilty, the deceased’s family may file a wrongful death claim in civil court. Most wrongful death lawsuits follow in the wake of criminal trials, using similar evidence but with a lower burden of proof. Someone found liable for wrongful death may or may not be convicted of a crime associated with that death. Famously, O.J. Simpson was found not guilty of murdering Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, but was found responsible for their deaths in the wrongful death case.

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- it's important to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Dealing with any criminal charge can be a frightening experience. If you find yourself facing an involuntary manslaughter charge, you should contact an experienced Missouri criminal defense attorney for assistance.

Research the Law

Missouri Involuntary Manslaughter Laws: Related Resources

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