Involuntary Manslaughter Defense Attorneys

Involuntary Manslaughter, also known as Negligent Homicide, occurs when a person is killed because another person did something reckless or negligent.

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How does the law define Involuntary Manslaughter?

Negligent Homicide and Involuntary Manslaughter charges occur when there is a death due to reckless or extremely negligent behavior, and there was no intent to kill. If there were an intent to kill, the actor would be charged with voluntary manslaughter (“heat of passion”) or murder. A typical example of involuntary manslaughter is when teenagers goof around with a gun, and it fires by accident, killing someone.  With the advent of texting and distracted driving, cases have arisen where distracted driving has led to involuntary manslaughter or negligent homicide charge. An involuntary manslaughter defense attorney can negotiate for reduced or dismissed charges.

The law views some accidents as more than simple accidents, where the negligence that led to death was so great that the law deems it criminal, even if it was at its core an “unintentional” accident. Genuine unforeseeable accidents are forgiven, at least criminally. However, if an event is caused by recklessness or negligence that could have been prevented by reasonable prudence and care, the law holds that the negligent person must be punished criminally.

Examples of Involuntary Manslaughter

  • A punch in an ordinary fistfight that causes a medical issue resulting in death;
  • Distracted driving causing death;
  • Careless or reckless discharge of a firearm causing death;
  • Leaving a loaded firearm in a place accessible by children resulting in death;
  • Drag racing resulting in death;
  • Alcohol poisoning due to over-consumption encouraged by friends.

In these cases, and others of their kind, no one intends that someone will die. But the law believes the actor should have foreseen that injury or death was possible or, indeed, likely. The law aims to discourage and dissuade actions that place other people in severe danger.

Criminal Penalty and Other Ramifications of an Involuntary Manslaughter Conviction

The penalty for involuntary manslaughter is up to 15 years in prison, 5 years of court-supervised probation, and a $7,500.00 fine. Aside from jail, fines, and probation, a defendant will almost certainly face a civil lawsuit on behalf of the deceased person’s family. A conviction for manslaughter will also have significant collateral consequences, such as the temporary loss of the right to vote, the loss of firearm rights, and a criminal record that will likely discourage virtually any reputable business from offering employment. Anyone charged with manslaughter must get the very best criminal defense attorney possible.

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Defenses to an Involuntary Manslaughter Charge

Because no intent to kill is alleged, resolving the criminal case will depend on whether a judge or jury believes the defendant’s actions were so reckless or negligent that they must be punished criminally. The burden of proof is on the government; this provides an opportunity for an astute defense attorney to make arguments in favor of an acquittal and a dismissal of all charges. What one person sees as a criminally negligent act may look somehow excusable by someone else. It is an expert criminal attorney’s job to establish that an act does not rise to the level of criminal negligence. Possible defenses to homicide charges in Michigan can include:

  • The circumstances were out of the defendant’s hands, and the event was not their fault (intervening cause);
  • The defendant was exercising care and caution, contrary to how the prosecutor interprets the evidence;
  • Someone else’s actions caused the incident; The alleged victim contributed to the incident through their negligence or deliberate acts; or
  • The defendant’s actions were not the cause of death.
  • Mistaken Identity

Negotiating for a Favorable Plea Bargain and Lenient Sentence

Sometimes, despite the finest criminal defense lawyers’ best efforts, neither the prosecutor nor the judge will dismiss the charges. If a conviction cannot be avoided, a top-rated and highly astute defense attorney will know the approach needed to address plea bargaining and sentencing most effectively. Not all people convicted of the same offense receive the same sentence. Even with identical backgrounds, different defendants can receive different sentences depending on their legal representation.

A zealous and committed defense attorney must continue the fight right up to the moment of sentencing. The finest and most successful criminal defense attorneys know that drafting a moving and compelling sentencing memorandum can make a difference, even with a harsh judge. A finely crafted sentencing presentation can make the difference in whether jail is imposed or how much jail the defendant will have to serve. The sad fact is that many defense attorneys don’t even prepare a sentencing memorandum or prepare a compelling sentencing presentation. A case is never over until the sentence has been imposed, and a great lawyer will never give up until they do everything possible to obtain the best outcome possible.

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Defense Attorneys Winning Involuntary Manslaughter and Negligent Homicide Cases

The highly experienced, zealous, and dedicated defense attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have successfully represented thousands of clients on felony and misdemeanor charges throughout Michigan, including all types of homicide and manslaughter cases. We have a well-earned reputation for providing the highest quality defense and aggressive representation, while showing empathy and close, personalized care for each client. We are not afraid to win!

Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.

We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

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