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What does it mean to face charges of involuntary manslaughter?

Accidents happen, and sometimes, people lose their lives in the process. The question is whether you will be criminally liable for a person's death if you are involved in an incident in which someone dies. Perhaps you were involved in a motor vehicle accident or some other accident in which someone died. Would your actions in that event rise to the level of criminality?

It's possible if authorities believe that you acted recklessly or criminally negligent. Below are some of the circumstances in which you could face charges for involuntary manslaughter here in Maryland.

What types of events could constitute involuntary manslaughter?

The state of Maryland defines involuntary manslaughter as the "killing of another unintentionally" during the commission of a negligent act, a crime not classified as a misdemeanor, or by not performing a legal duty. The types of circumstances that commonly fall under this definition include the following:

  • Criminal negligence vehicular manslaughter
  • Gross negligence vehicular manslaughter
  • Manslaughter
  • Vehicular homicide while impaired by drugs
  • Vehicular homicide while impaired by a controlled dangerous substance
  • Vehicular homicide while impaired by alcohol
  • Vehicular homicide while under the influence of alcohol
  • Assisting another person to attempt or commit suicide

Criminal negligence occurs when you should have known what you were doing presented an unjustifiable and substantial risk to your life and the lives of others around you and/or you failed to understand that what you were doing was unreasonable. Gross negligence occurs when you know that what you were doing presented an unjustifiable and substantial risk to your life and the lives of others, but you did it anyway.

Protect your rights and your future

The penalties associated with any of the above forms of involuntary manslaughter are harsh. The penalties you may face if convicted depend on the specific charge and the degree of responsibility a judge or jury applies to your circumstances. For instance, if convicted of vehicular homicide - gross negligence, you could face up to 10 years in prison or up to three years for vehicular homicide - criminal negligence. If you have a vehicular homicide conviction while under the influence of alcohol, you could spend up to five years in prison.

Each of these crimes also comes with potentially substantial monetary fines. As you can see, the crime with which you receive a charge makes a marked difference. Considering that nothing less than your future is on the line, it would be wise to gain an understanding of your rights and your options for achieving the best possible outcome under the circumstances.

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