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Prosecutor Have to Prove for Involuntary Manslaughter? Criminal Defense, Manslaughter/Murder

Prosecutor Have to Prove for Involuntary Manslaughter?

2 years ago by Brian
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Involuntary manslaughter is the act of causing a victim’s death because of gross negligence or reckless behavior. Involuntary manslaughter is different from murder in that there is no proof of premeditation or intent to kill required in the case of manslaughter. Because of what is known as prosecutorial discretion, however, a person charged with murder can have an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Woodbury, MN, and surrounding cities.

Elements of a Criminal Charge

When someone is charged with a criminal offense, the prosecutor must prove four things:

  1. Criminal Act. A person commits a criminal act when they engage in unlawful conduct or unlawfully omit to do something they are supposed to do in violation of a legal statute or law. In some cases, a person’s utterances can be in violation of the law, such as lying under oath, verbally threatening someone, and so on. 
  2. Intent. Other than crimes that do not require intent, which is rare, the prosecutor must prove that the person charged with a crime had intended to commit that crime.
  3. Concurrence. The prosecutor must show that both the criminal act and intent occurred at the same time. Typically, a guilty mind (intent) precedes the criminal act. If someone is angry and decides to take a bat and starts hitting someone with the bat, causing injury to the other person, then both the criminal act (using the bat to hit someone) and guilty mind are present because the decision to start swinging proves intent to harm the victim.
  4. Causation. The prosecutor must show that the crime could not have happened if the charged person did or did not do what they were supposed to do under the law. In other words, the prosecutor must show that there is a causal relationship between the charged person’s act or omission and the crime they committed.

In the involuntary manslaughter context, take an example of someone who goes out drinking and starts to drive their vehicle while intoxicated. While on the road, they run through a red light signal and crash into a vehicle that had the right-of-way, killing one or more occupants in the other vehicle. 

If this happened in Minnesota, then the drunk driver can be charged with involuntary manslaughter, which is classified as manslaughter in the second degree under the law. The punishment for this is no more than 10 years in prison and/or fines up to $20,000.

To obtain a conviction for involuntary manslaughter under this statute, the prosecutor must show that the four elements above are present.

First, the criminal act is there because the driver went through a red light, crashing into a vehicle that had the right-of-way.

Proving intent is not necessary in this case because the intent is substituted with being culpably negligent. This means the person creates an unreasonable risk and consciously takes chances of causing death or great bodily harm to another.

A person who drives while drunk is culpably negligent, and, therefore, this element is satisfied.

Both the criminal act and the culpable negligence occurred at the same time in this example, so the concurrence element is met.

Causation is proven because, but for the drunk driver going through the red-light signal at the time they did, the victim would not have died then.

Speak with a Woodbury, MN Involuntary Manslaughter Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with involuntary manslaughter, contact the office of JS Defense, PA, for a free consultation. We regularly defend against serious criminal charges, and we can help. Call. 651-362-9426

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by attorney Justin M. Schiks who has more than 20 years of legal experience as a personal injury attorney.

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