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Involuntary manslaughter differs from voluntary manslaughter in that it involves the unlawful killing of a person without malice aforethought expressed or implied. In other words, this type of manslaughter only occurs when the defendant does not kill with criminal intent. Most involuntary manslaughter cases are caused by a lack of care or skill demonstrated while committing a legal act, or carelessness while committing an illegal act without criminal intent.
Involuntary manslaughter can be split into two categories: criminally negligent manslaughter and unlawful act manslaughter. The former is when extreme recklessness or negligence causes the death of an individual. Criminally negligent manslaughter can sometimes also occur when someone fails to perform their job duty to save another. On the other hand, unlawful act manslaughter takes place when a person kills someone by carrying out or attempting to carry out an illegal action. In order for someone to be guilty of involuntary manslaughter, not only does a death have to occur as a result of the defendant's action, but there must also be awareness or should have been awareness on the part of the defendant in knowing that the action could be dangerous to others.
Because involuntary manslaughter includes reckless, negligent, or unlawful behavior but does not feature the intent to kill, sentencing varies case-by-case. The punishment for involuntary manslaughter is not as severe as for other types of homicides, particularly first and second degree murder. However, the consequences can still be very serious, depending on the case, the level of recklessness, the defendant's criminal history, and other aggravating factors. On the other hand, mitigating factors can help lower the severity of the crime's consequences. Such factors may include the defendant assuming responsibility for the death and the offender's lack of a history of reckless behavior. If found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, a defendant can face years behind bars, fines and fees, probation and a tainted criminal record for committing the felonious act.
When facing an involuntary manslaughter charges, it is crucial to enlist the help of a legal professional to represent your side of the story in court. Involuntary manslaughter cases are typically very complicated and challenging in nature and require a criminal defense attorney with years of trial experience who can help prove when a defendant had absolutely no intention of killing another. Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side can be a difference between a probation, parole, and jail or prison time.
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