Criminal negligence or recklessness can sometimes result in an unintended death. This is termed as involuntary manslaughter. It also includes instances when someone, while committing an unlawful act such as a low-level felony, ends up unintentionally killing another person due to his actions.
For a person to be found guilty of involuntary manslaughter it is required that the actions of the defendant resulted in a homicide, the act was either essentially dangerous or committed with disregard to human life and the defendant was aware that his action could cause harm to others. The intent to kill, however, was not present.
This stands true in cases of reckless driving, speeding or violating any other traffic signals which result in an accident and subsequent death of the victim. For example, if a driver ran a red light and ended up running over and killing a pedestrian. Though the driver never intended to harm, let alone kill anyone by his actions, he was aware that he was committing an unlawful act. Similarly, driving under the influence is also considered involuntary manslaughter. Not surprisingly, most charges of involuntary manslaughter are a consequence of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Again, while the defendant never meant to kill anyone, the fact that they were driving under the influence will be considered criminal negligence and proof enough to be charged with involuntary manslaughter.
If you have been charged with involuntary manslaughter due to reckless driving or DUI, you should consult with a qualified criminal defense attorney at the very earliest. Even though it is a less serious crime than murder, involuntary manslaughter can still result in prison time. An attorney will defend your case in court and work to minimize your sentence.