When an individual acts in a reckless or negligent manner such as when driving drunk and unintentionally kills another person, they are believed to be criminally negligent. When an individual is found to be criminally negligent through an unlawful act like DUI, resulting in the death of another, they may be charged with criminally negligent homicide, also known as involuntary manslaughter.
The main difference between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter is the intention of the person committing the crime. In reference to a DUI, while the act of driving drunk is reckless, it is unlikely that the driver intended to cause anyone harm. Criminal negligence comes in when the act that caused the harm is of a criminal nature.
Individuals charged with a DUI may be considered criminally negligent with or without an involuntary manslaughter charge. However, when a death occurs as the result of an individual driving drunk, the charge of criminally negligent homicide or involuntary manslaughter may be given. In order for a person to be found guilty of these charges, three basic elements must exist in the case. The responsible party must have known that their action posed a significant threat to other; there was a reckless discount for human life, and the individual’s actions must have caused the death of another individual.
Criminally negligent homicide and involuntary manslaughter should not be mistaken with murder charges. While all result in the death of another human being, criminally negligent homicide and involuntary manslaughter result in the unintentional death of another person. Essentially both charges represent harm done without criminal intent. With that in mind, involuntary manslaughter charges may be brought upon an individual acting in an entirely legal manner.
Criminally negligent homicide and involuntary manslaughter are extremely serious charges. However, for individuals facing charges, all hope is not lost. A DUI defense attorney may be able to come up with a strategy to defend individuals against these charges.