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Montana Involuntary Manslaughter Law

In Montana, involuntary manslaughter is criminalized under two separate statutes: negligent homicide and vehicular homicide while under the influence. This article provides an overview of Montana's involuntary manslaughter laws, but first it is important to understand how involuntary manslaughter fits into criminal homicide law in general.

What's the Difference Between Murder and Manslaughter?

The key difference between murder and manslaughter is the element of malice aforethought (or the intent to kill or to cause serious bodily harm). In other words, it is the intent of the actor that generally differentiates murder from manslaughter. Both crimes are defined by each individual state, but murder is often defined as the unlawful killing or another with malice (under circumstances defined by the state), while manslaughter is the unlawful killing of another without malice.

What's the Difference Between Voluntary Manslaughter and Involuntary Manslaughter?

Many states divide manslaughter into the separate crimes of voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter. Voluntary manslaughter is an intentional killing where the offender didn't previously intent to kill the victim, but instead killed in the heat of passion. Conversely, voluntary manslaughter is an unintentional killing that results from recklessness or criminal negligence. In Montana, voluntary manslaughter is referred to as "mitigated deliberate homicide," while involuntary manslaughter is broken down into the separate crimes of "negligent homicide" and "vehicular homicide while under the influence."

Negligent Homicide

Code Section

Montana Code section 45-5-104: Negligent Homicide

What's Prohibited?

A person commits the offense of negligent homicide if the person negligently causing the death of another human being.


Negligent homicide is punishable by imprisonment in prison for up to 20 years, and/or a fine of up to $50,000.

Vehicular Homicide While Under the Influence

Code Section

Montana Code section 45-5-106: Vehicular Homicide While Under the Influence

What's Prohibited?

While under the influence, negligently causing the death of another human being while the offender is operating a vehicle in violation of Montana's DUI laws (section 61-8-401, 61-8-406, or 61-8-411).


Punishable by imprisonment in a state prison for up to 30 years, and/or a fine of up to $50,000.

Additional Resources

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

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