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Explore General Legal Issues

Criminal Defense Attorneys Strive For The Best Outcomes In Involuntary Manslaughter Cases

by Ralph Griffin

Involuntary manslaughter is the unintentional killing of a person due to negligence or reckless behavior. Although these incidents are accidental, they still legally are considered homicide. Depending on the circumstances, a person charged with involuntary manslaughter faces a possible sentence of several years in prison. Hiring a skilled, experienced criminal defense attorney is crucial for minimizing the incarceration sentence and perhaps avoiding it altogether.


Vehicular manslaughter is one of the more common charges in this category. Often, the incident is connected with driving under the influence of alcohol. It also can happen when a driver behaves recklessly, such as traveling far above the speed limit and losing control of the automobile. A fatal accident caused by texting and driving is another example.

A driver who strikes and kills a pedestrian or bicyclist might face this charge. A prosecuting attorney may believe the incident happened because of the driver's carelessness rather than by something the other person did.

Involuntary manslaughter also sometimes occurs when people get into physical fights. It can also happen if someone is not entirely careful when hunting deer and aims a firearm at a human.


This offense nearly always is charged as a felony. In some jurisdictions, the offense is referred to as negligent homicide. In others, negligent homicide is a lesser charge than involuntary manslaughter. In all cases, a convicted individual can receive a prison sentence.


A criminal defense lawyer puts forth effort to convince the prosecuting attorney to drop charges or a judge to dismiss the case. If this is impossible, the defendant might want the lawyer to negotiate a plea bargain, ideally in return for a sentence of probation with community service. That sentence might last for years and have strict guidelines, but the individual remains free. Violating probation could lead to incarceration becoming mandatory.

If the prosecution refuses this type of sentence, the plea bargain might result in a relatively short time of incarceration, such as six or ten months. The prosecuting attorney and the judge overseeing the case might allow completion of this sentence in a county jail instead of a state prison. The defense lawyer works to convince these officials why leniency is reasonable. 

These all should be considered successful outcomes since involuntary manslaughter sentences issued by judges can be much lengthier. This again varies by jurisdiction, but it could be five to ten years.

Anyone needing legal representation after being charged with involuntary manslaughter may contact a criminal defense attorney for a consultation.

For more information, reach out to a criminal defense attorney in your area.