What is Involuntary Manslaughter in California?

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What is Involuntary Manslaughter in California?

While few were surprised to learn that Alec Baldwin was being named in a wrongful death civil lawsuit following the tragic death of Halya Hutchins, they were astounded when it was recently announced that he was being charged with involuntary manslaughter.

According to the Legal Dictionary, involuntary manslaughter is “the unintended killing of a person while committing a crime, or acting in a reckless or negligent manner.”

In other words, when a person is charged with involuntary manslaughter, it means that while they didn’t harbor any malice towards the other person or intentionally did something that resulted in the death, their direct actions did result in another person losing their life.

Many of us would simply classify this type of thing as an accident or poor judgment and assume that the possible repercussions Alec Baldwin could face if convicted would be minor, but that’s not the case at all.

Involuntary Manslaughter

In California, involuntary manslaughter is a felony. If you’re convicted, the potential sentence includes the following:

  • Two-four years in prison
  • A fine that could be as much as $10,000
  • Felony probation

It’s possible that additional charges could accompany the involuntary manslaughter charges, which would make the sentence even more severe.

Because involuntary manslaughter is a felony, most people who are charged with the crime decide that it’s in their best interest to align themselves with a good defense attorney and do everything they can to fight the charges. Defenses that have been successfully used to beat involuntary manslaughter charges in California include the following:

  • That you were acting in self-defense or in an attempt to defend others
  • The death was the result of a genuine accident and not the result of your neglect or careless actions
  • That the accusations are false
  • That someone else was actually responsible for the death

One of the interesting things about involuntary manslaughter in California is that if negligence happens in an auto-related incident, the person accused of causing the accident isn’t charged with involuntary manslaughter. Instead, they are charged with involuntary manslaughter.

If you’re involved in an involuntary manslaughter case, and the circumstances surrounding the case somehow involve a firearm, this particular conviction can be included in California’s three-strikes law for firearm-related crimes.

It’s likely the criminal charges will be just one of the things you’ll have to worry about when you’re charged with involuntary manslaughter. In most cases, the deceased’s family will opt to file a wrongful death civil lawsuit as well.