Is Involuntary Manslaughter the Same Thing as Negligent Homicide?

“Homicide” is the legal term for killing a person. Murder is a type of homicide, but not all homicide is murder. Charges of murder only apply when one person intentionally kills another person. The law also uses the term homicide to refer to incidents where someone causes a fatal accident and where any reasonable person can see that the accident or the death could have been prevented. Negligent homicide charges apply when the defendant acted carelessly or dangerously enough that the defendant’s actions would still have constituted a violation of the law, even if a fatal accident had not been the result. A Whittier criminal law attorney can help you if you are being accused of involuntary manslaughter or negligent homicide.

Involuntary Manslaughter in California Law

When a person gets accused of negligent homicide in California, the charge on the criminal complaint reads “involuntary manslaughter.” The crime of involuntary manslaughter involves killing a human being without meaning to. Negligent homicide is just one of several categories that fall under the definition of involuntary manslaughter. The maximum penalty for involuntary manslaughter is a fine of $10,000 and four years in prison.

Suppose the fatal accident involved a motor vehicle. In that case, negligent homicide is charged as vehicular manslaughter, which is a wobbler offense, which means that prosecutors can choose to charge it as a misdemeanor or a felony. The maximum penalty is one year in prison.

Examples of Negligent Homicide

California’s most famous involuntary manslaughter case was the case against Conrad Murray, the doctor who administered propofol, a surgical anesthetic, to the singer Michael Jackson, leading to Jackson’s death. It is also possible for negligent homicide charges to apply if you fire a gun in celebration, and the stray gunfire hits a person who dies from the gunshot wound. Negligent homicide charges also apply if a toddler swallows fentanyl powder and dies while her parents are asleep in the next room. Negligent homicide in the form of vehicular manslaughter can apply in the case of fatal accidents involving drunk driving or hit and run.

Possible Defenses to Negligent Homicide Charges

The court can only convict you of involuntary manslaughter if your negligence was egregious enough that it was against the law. Possession of illegal drugs is a crime by itself, and leaving illegal drugs within reach of a child is the crime of child endangerment. A possible defense to negligent homicide charges is that the accident happened for reasons other than negligence or that your behavior was not as illegal or reckless as the prosecution alleges.

Contact the Law Offices of Omar Gastelum About Involuntary Manslaughter Charges

No matter the charges they face, defendants in criminal cases always have the right to a fair trial.  A criminal law attorney can help you if you are facing charges of negligent homicide or vehicular homicide.  Contact the Law Offices of Omar Gastelum and Associates APLC in Whittier, California, to set up a consultation.