What To Do Next if You’ve Been Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter
In California, involuntary manslaughter is a felony offense outlined in California Penal Code Section § 192(b).
The punishment for this crime can be extremely harsh, as it is considered a homicide. If you are facing a charge of involuntary manslaughter, you need to fight it with everything you can.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer can build legal defenses against this charge, including:
- self-defense or defense of others;
- insufficient evidence;
- accident defense where there was no criminal negligence; or
- false accusation or mistaken identity.
Continue reading to learn more about involuntary manslaughter in California.
What Must the Prosecution Prove?
To prove that the crime of involuntary manslaughter was committed, a prosecutor must show:
- The accused committed a crime or a lawful act in an unlawful manner,
- The accused committed the crime or act with criminal negligence, and
- The accused’s acts caused the death of another person.
Therefore, any defense needs to be geared towards combating any or all of these three elements that must be proven by the prosecution. For example, it can be shown that the accused acted lawfully in self-defense or in defense of others. It can also be argued that the act was not committed with any criminal negligence. Criminal negligence has to be more than ordinary carelessness, inattention, or mistake of judgment.
To be considered criminal negligence, the prosecutor has to show that the accused:
- Acted in a reckless way that created a high risk of death or great bodily harm, and
- A reasonable person would have known that acting in that way would create that level of risk.
Involuntary manslaughter does not apply to acts committed while driving a vehicle. If the act was committed while driving a vehicle, it would be considered vehicular manslaughter and is governed by a different statute in the California penal code.
What Are My Next Steps After Being Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter?
Involuntary manslaughter is a serious offense with hefty consequences. Here are the steps to take if you’ve been charged:
Speak With an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
First of all, it is important to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Avoid giving any statements to law enforcement or investigators for the prosecution without the assistance of an attorney. Be polite in how you express your desire to have an attorney. Regardless of what promises or veiled threats law enforcement makes, you should refrain from answering any questions (besides your name or biographical/demographic information) until you have an attorney present.
Reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney for an initial consultation to best guide you as to your next steps. Generally speaking, you should collect any information, photos, documents, or evidence that support your defense and document your side of the story for your attorney.
Record Details of the Event
Many times, a trial or resolution in a case like this takes place several months down the road, so you should record or memorialize as much detail of the events that took place as possible. You will then be able to provide that to your attorney and have it to refresh your recollection in the future if you need it for trial or any form of testimony.
Find Eyewitnesses to Testify on Your Behalf
If there are any witnesses to the event, you or your lawyer should gather statements from them while their memories are fresh. It will be important to determine their availability and willingness to testify on the defense’s behalf and determine if their testimony would be beneficial or detrimental. If it would be detrimental, see if that testimony could be either excluded by one of the rules of procedure or if it can be impeached due to lack of credibility or incapacity of some sort.
Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer If You’ve Been Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter
These are only a few of the steps that should be taken if you’re facing a charge of involuntary manslaughter. It is vital to seek out the help of an experienced attorney. Without proper legal representation, these charges can be devastating, and you may face severe negative consequences.