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What is involuntary manslaughter?

In Maryland, involuntary manslaughter is sometimes called criminally negligent homicide. There is a statute for manslaughter, but it doesn’t define it. It is considered a common law crime, which means it is created by cases. Depending on someone’s intent, manslaughter can be either involuntary or voluntary. Involuntary manslaughter is the killing of another person unintentionally while doing a negligent act, an unlawful act or by negligently failing to perform a legal duty.

Vehicular homicide is a common type of involuntary manslaughter involving the killing of someone as the result of driving a car, boat, motorcycle or other vessel due to either recklessness or serious negligence. When someone dies because of another person’s drinking and driving, it’s considered homicide caused by the negligent operation of the vehicle by the drunk driver. In Maryland, there are four statutes that deal with intoxicated driving that results in death.

There are two vehicular manslaughter sections in the state statutes that deal specifically with negligence: gross negligence and criminal negligence. The difference between the two types of negligence is the degree to which the offender knew of the risky behavior. For gross negligence, the defendant knows that he or she is doing something that creates risk to human life, but acts without regard for the human life. In criminal negligence, the defendant should have been aware of the risks his or her actions posed to human life, but he or she failed to see that this risk was unreasonable.

If you are facing manslaughter charges, it is important for you and your attorney to begin building your defense case as soon as possible. These cases can have serious penalties. Manslaughter is a felony that is punishable by a $500 fine and up to 10 years in prison. Your attorney will be able to advise you of your legal options in your case.

Source: FindLaw, “Maryland Involuntary Manslaughter Law,” accessed July 01, 2016

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