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What Is Involuntary Manslaughter?

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What Is Involuntary Manslaughter?


Many people misunderstand the crime of manslaughter. It’s often confused with “killing someone by accident.” Imagine a factory worker who accidentally loses their grip on a machine part, that part flies across the factory, hitting and killing a coworker. The terms used for the crime can also be misleading. When you hear the phrase “involuntary manslaughter,” you may picture a scenario like the one described above. This is not an example of manslaughter.

What Makes an Action Involuntary Manslaughter?

In reality, there is much more to a manslaughter charge than just an accidental death.

Involuntary manslaughter involves doing something dangerous or negligent, killing someone in the process.

Here are some potential examples of involuntary manslaughter:

  • Involuntary Manslaughter by Car
    • Someone engages in street racing, loses control of the car, and kills someone.
    • A person drives drunk and kills a bystander.
    • A driver is driving far over the speed limit and kills someone.
  • Involuntary Manslaughter Through Grossly Negligent Behavior
    • A person fires a gun in the dark, hitting and killing an unseen passerby.
    • Teens drop a cinderblock off a bridge, hitting a driver and killing them.
    • Someone fires overpowered fireworks in a residential area and kills a neighbor.

Nevada’s Involuntary Manslaughter Penalties

Alleged offenders can face serious penalties. Involuntary manslaughter is a Category D felony in the state. This is punishable by 1 to 4 years in prison with fines up to $5,000.

Defenses Against Involuntary Manslaughter

If you’ve been accused of this crime, remember that you are innocent until proven guilty. You have the right to a defense, no matter the circumstances. Discuss the following defenses with your attorney, and you may be able to retain that innocence.

Defend Your Behavior

Remember, it’s up to the prosecution to prove that you were engaged in egregious, irresponsible behavior. Horrific, unfortunate accidents happen every day.

Imagine you are accused of involuntary vehicular manslaughter. You may have been by the wheel of a car, and that car may have killed a bystander, but that doesn’t mean you’re guilty of manslaughter. For instance, the car may have malfunctioned, causing you to lose control. In that case, the car’s manufacturer or your mechanic is responsible, not you.

Claim Self-Defense

Imagine someone is charging you, and you simply try to push them away. The road sidewalk is slick with rainwater, and your attacker slips, cracks their head on the concrete, and dies.

Self-defense isn’t always a violent fight or a shooting. Sometimes, it’s just the smallest form of fending someone off, ending in an accidental tragedy.

Scrutinize the Evidence

Ultimately, if you are not the killer, you may be able to challenge and debunk the evidence against you. For instance, perhaps there were multiple cars involved in a crash, and you weren’t responsible for it. Maybe someone did fire a shot in the dark, and the ballistics do trace the bullet back to your gun. Even with strong evidence like that, the police may not be able to prove that it was your finger that pulled the trigger that night.

In our next blog, we will discuss the crime of voluntary manslaughter.

If you’ve been accused of involuntary manslaughter, reach out to our firm for a free consultation. You can call us at (775) 502-1575 or contact us online.

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