You may have heard the terms manslaughter, homicide, and murder used simultaneously. However, they are actually separate criminal offenses in most states. According to Illinois law, involuntary manslaughter is the unintentional killing of another person. It results when an individual acts recklessly and that conduct leads to someone’s death. This is different than first-degree murder charges, which result from the intentional or knowing act that creates a strong probability of death or great bodily harm. Proving one’s mental state at the time of the crime requires a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who can help avoid a conviction.
What Are Considered Reckless Actions?
Various acts can lead to a manslaughter charge. For example, driving a vehicle in a reckless manner may be considered negligence in a car accident case. If the crash causes the death of a passenger or a pedestrian, that may lead to a criminal charge of involuntary manslaughter for the at-fault driver. Criminal negligence can also occur when a defendant fails to perform an act that he or she has a duty to perform. Parents can face manslaughter charges if they accidentally leave their child in a vehicle on a hot day, and the child dies. Another example would be a ziplining or parasailing guide or tour operator who fails to advise patrons on proper safety procedures, which causes a fatal accident.
Illinois Punishments for Involuntary Manslaughter
The punishments for involuntary manslaughter can vary depending on the circumstances surrounding the death. Although this crime is committed without the intent to kill, it is usually litigated aggressively by the prosecution. Penalties can include fines, imprisonment, or even counseling. In addition, a judge generally considers any aggravating or mitigating factors when determining a defendant’s sentence. In most cases, manslaughter is charged as a Class 3 felony in Illinois, resulting in up to five years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
However, it is possible to be charged with a Class 2 felony for manslaughter or reckless homicide, which carries a prison term of 3-7 years or more if convicted. This elevated charge is brought on when aggravating factors are present, including:
The victim was a police officer on duty.
The incident took place on a construction site or in a school zone
The defendant caused the death of two or more people
The defendant was in violation of other laws at the time
Contact an Itasca Criminal Defense Attorney
One mistake can lead to devastating consequences, including the unintentional death of another person. If you or someone you know is facing involuntary manslaughter charges in Illinois, you need skilled legal counsel by your side. At the experienced law firm of Ana M. Mencini & Associates, P.C., our tenacious DuPage County criminal defense lawyers will build a strong defense strategy on your behalf and make sure your constitutional rights are protected along the way. To arrange a confidential consultation, call us today at 630-875-1700.