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Involuntary manslaughter

Involuntary manslaughter is the unintentional killing of another committed through recklessness or criminal negligence. The elements of involuntary manslaughter are met when a person (1) unintentionally (2) kills another (3) through an act or an omission which amounts to culpable negligence or which act or omission has occurred while perpetrating or attempting an offense directly affecting the other person.

The basis for involuntary manslaughter could be negligence or an omission (failure to do something that is required by a duty between the parties like failure of a doctor to treat his patient). The act or omission amounts to culpable negligence if, in light of the common human experience, an average person would have foreseen that it will result in the death of another. For example leaving dangerous poisons where they can endanger human life or target shooting carelessly towards an inhabited house within range. Culpable negligence generally requires more than ordinary negligence and involves a total disregard for the foreseeable consequences of the act or omission.
It is important to note that there has to be a legal duty in order for a court to find neglect. When for example a stranger makes no effort to save someone who has been in an accident the stranger has committed no crime by not helping.

A much repeated example of involuntary manslaughter would be reckless driving. If a defendant ignores traffic laws and drives at an excessive speed which causes the death of a pedestrian he is guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Even though he has not intended for the pedestrian to die his reckless conduct make him liable.

The penalty for both involuntary and voluntary manslaughter is imprisonment. Since manslaughter is governed by state law the term of the prison sentence depends on the applicable state statute.

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