PA Involuntary Manslaughter Charges: What to Know

by | Jan 31, 2022

Your entire life changes the moment you face involuntary manslaughter charges. You probably never envisioned that the day’s events would have unfolded the way they did, even if someone had told you. That’s how many good people in your situation feel when facing an arrest for this type of crime.

However, there are elements that prosecutors must prove. They might not have as much evidence against you as they think they do, which could lead to clearing your name. Instead of picturing the worst-case scenario, get legal help from a criminal defense lawyer to get more information about your charges and build a legal strategy around the facts and circumstances.

In This Article

This article addresses what you need to know when facing involuntary manslaughter charges in Pennsylvania. To assist, a Philadelphia criminal defense attorney addresses the following questions:

  • What Is Involuntary Manslaughter?
  • How Many Years For Involuntary Manslaughter?
  • Is Involuntary Manslaughter a Felony?
  • Is Involuntary Manslaughter a Violent Crime?
  • How Serious Is Involuntary Manslaughter?
  • Can You Beat Involuntary Manslaughter Charges?
  • Who Can I Talk to About PA Involuntary Manslaughter Charges?

Let’s start by understanding how PA defines involuntary manslaughter so that you know what the law says exactly.

What Is Involuntary Manslaughter?

Pennsylvania’s laws define involuntary manslaughter as:

“…a direct result of the doing of an unlawful act in a reckless or grossly negligent manner, or the doing of a lawful act in a reckless or grossly negligent manner, he causes the death of another person.”

Essentially, the law tells you that involuntary manslaughter is when you negligently cause someone else’s death while breaking the law. You can also read the exact legal text for 18 Pa.C.S. § 2504, the involuntary manslaughter statute, here.

What Is Gross Negligence?

Gross Negligence is not exercising the same duty of care that another reasonable person would have in the same situation.

Examples of involuntary manslaughter gross negligence include:

  • Driving dangerously
  • Medical malpractice
  • Unsafe work sites
  • Not controlling aggressive dogs
  • Accidentally discharging a firearm

Voluntary vs. Involuntary Manslaughter

You have to understand what voluntary manslaughter is before you can understand the difference between the two charges:

Voluntary manslaughter is when someone intentionally kills another person over “serious provocation.” These are typically thought of as “crimes of passion.” The most common example is when one spouse catches another having an affair and murders them.

The state codifies voluntary manslaughter at 18 Pa.C.S. § 2503, available here.

The most significant difference between voluntary vs. involuntary manslaughter is that the former ends someone’s life intentionally over provocation. At the same time, the latter happened unintentionally but recklessly or grossly negligent during another unlawful act. Voluntary manslaughter also carries a stiffer grading level of a 1st-degree felony (F1).

How Many Years For Involuntary Manslaughter?

Under 18 Pa C.S. § 1104, you could spend up to five years in prison for an involuntary manslaughter 1st-degree misdemeanor (M1) charge. For 2nd-degree felonies (F2), you could face up to ten years imprisonment per 18 Pa.C.S. § 1103.

What Is the Fine For Involuntary Manslaughter

The fine for involuntary manslaughter depends on whether you face a 1st-degree misdemeanor (M1) or a 2nd-degree felony (F2) as outlined below:

  • M1 fines: Up to $10,000
  • F2 fines: Up to $25,000

The Pennsylvania General Assembly’s website makes the legal text for fines available at 18 Pa.C.S. § 1101.

Is Involuntary Manslaughter a Felony?

Police could charge involuntary manslaughter as a felony if the victim were under age 12. In that case, you could face a 2nd-degree felony (F2). Otherwise, state laws classify and grade involuntary manslaughter as a 1st-degree misdemeanor (M1), which is the most serious misdemeanor one can face.

Related Article: Governor Rendell Attempts a Parole Overhaul

Is Involuntary Manslaughter a Violent Crime?

Involuntary manslaughter could be considered a violent crime, depending upon the facts of the case.

Few situations are more frightening than facing involuntary manslaughter charges, especially when you consider how Pennsylvania punishes violent crimes. Penalties include lengthy prison sentences, fines, and carrying the stigma of being a violent offender for the rest of one’s life.

Do not assume that an investigation or arrest is an automatic conviction. However, you’ll want to take these allegations seriously by speaking with Pennsylvania’s aggressive criminal defense attorney.

How Serious Is Involuntary Manslaughter?

Involuntary manslaughter charges are serious. The outcome could result in severe penalties that disrupt your entire life, especially if they result in felony charges. Always explore your legal options with an experienced legal professional who will try to bring as much control back to your case as possible.

Related Article: Can the Philadelphia Police Lie to You?

Can You Beat PA Involuntary Manslaughter Charges?

Yes, you can beat involuntary manslaughter charges. However, you will need to obtain evidence, poke holes in the prosecutor’s case, and avoid legal mistakes. These tactics require a strong command of federal, state, and local laws that only an experienced criminal defense lawyer can provide.

Involuntary Manslaughter Defenses

Your attorney will thoroughly examine your case to determine which defenses are applicable. In an involuntary manslaughter case, one common defense is that your actions did not directly result in the other person’s death. For instance, if you were speeding and the victim abruptly crossed the road in the middle of the block rather than at a crosswalk, this defense may be available.

Another possible defense to an involuntary manslaughter charge is that the victim’s death was accidental. Your actions must have been lawful and not criminally negligent in this situation to beat your involuntary manslaughter charges. Regardless of what happened in your situation, legal representation is the most proactive way to protect your case from as many angles as possible.

Related Article: How Strong Is an Alibi Defense?

Who Can I Talk to About PA Involuntary Manslaughter Charges?

You can talk to a criminal defense lawyer licensed to practice in Pennsylvania. We are the only legal professionals permitted to apply the law to someone’s situation and provide advice. Legal representation also helps you avoid jeopardizing your case while devising a strategy that fights back against involuntary manslaughter charges.

Talk to Brad V. Shuttleworth, Esq. During a Free Case Evaluation

You deserve answers when facing serious charges. Accused individuals or their concerned loved ones are welcome to contact Shuttleworth Law PC for answers. Call us at (215) 774-1371 for a FREE, NO-OBLIGATION CASE EVALUATION or message Brad V. Shuttleworth, Esq. here directly. We can travel to you if you cannot meet us in person.

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