Involuntary Manslaughter (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
The act of unlawfully killing another human being unintentionally.
Most unintentional killings are not murder but involuntary manslaughter. The absence of the element of intent is the key distinguishing factor between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. In most states involuntary manslaughter results from an improper use of reasonable care or skill while performing a legal act, or while committing an act that is unlawful but not felonious.
Many states do not define involuntary manslaughter, or define it vaguely in common-law terms. Some jurisdictions describe the amount of NEGLIGENCE necessary to constitute manslaughter with terms such as criminal negligence, gross negligence, and culpable negligence. The only certainty that can be attached to these terms is that they require more than the ordinary negligence standard in a civil case. With this approach the state does not have to prove that the defendant was aware of the risk.
Other jurisdictions apply more subjective tests, such as "reckless" or "wanton," to describe the amount of negligence needed to constitute involuntary manslaughter. In this approach the defendant must have personally appreciated a risk and then chosen to take it anyway.
There are two types of involuntary manslaughter statutes:...
(The entire section is 574 words.)
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