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Negligent Homicide

As the term itself suggests, the general definition of “negligent homicide” involves an act of criminal negligence that results in someone’s death. All states have laws that explicitly address this kind of criminal wrongdoing. Some states refer to this combination of negligence and loss of life as negligent homicide, while others label this conduct differently.

A 2008 Michigan law repealed The Great Lakes State’s negligent homicide law. The law, as initially conceived, primarily concerned acts of negligence involving the operation of a motor vehicle that resulted in the death of an innocent. In place of this original statute, the legislature passed two new laws concerning: 1. acts of recklessness leading to someone’s death and 2. moving violations serving as the proximate cause of another’s death.

It is also possible to prosecute acts of gross negligence that lead to another’s death as involuntary manslaughter charges. Understanding each of these three prosecutorial options is helpful when assessing how a motorist is likely to be charged in the wake of unintentionally causing the death of another while operating a motor vehicle.

Michigan Negligent Homicide Attorney

If you or a loved one is facing charges for negligent homicide, do not settle for an inexperienced defense attorney. A conviction for murder carries stiff penalties such as imprisonment and significant fines. Do not leave your freedom at stake. Instead, contact attorney J. Dallo at Dallo Law, P.C. who can help you secure a reduction if not a dismissal of charges. Defense lawyer Dallo has years practicing criminal defense and will craft a strong defense for your case.

You deserve to be represented well by a criminal defense attorney you can trust. Protect your future by calling Dallo Law, P.C. at (248) 283-7000 today. Dallo Law, P.C. is located in Bloomfield Hills, but we accept clients throughout Oakland County and Macomb County, Michigan.

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Information Center

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Elements of Michigan’s Negligent Homicide Statute

Moving violation causing death: A motorist commits a moving violation, and this conduct serves as the proximate cause of another’s death.

Reckless driving causing death: A motorist operated a vehicle on a highway or alternative area open to the public while demonstrating a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others or property. As a result of this conduct, someone died.

Involuntary manslaughter involves three elements:

  1. The defendant’s conduct caused the death of the victim
  2. The defendant’s conduct was grossly negligent
  3. The defendant caused the victim’s death without lawful excuse or justification

Note that a prosecutor must prove each element of a given offense to rightfully secure a conviction. If any single element cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the charge in question should not rightfully stand.

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Penalties for Negligent Homicide in Michigan

Understandably, the penalties that may be imposed in the event of a killing-related conviction become more severe when the individual’s conduct is considered increasingly egregious. For example, a conviction for a moving violation causing death, a misdemeanor, risks a sentence of no more than one year in jail, a fine of no more than $2,000, or both. This relatively light sentence (given that the defendant’s alleged conduct led to someone’s death) is imposed because committing a moving violation is not an intentional, reckless, or truly egregious act.

By contrast, both reckless driving causing death and involuntary manslaughter charges – which are both felonies – risk a term of imprisonment of up to 15 years. This is because driving recklessly or engaging in gross negligence is distinctly more egregious conduct than engaging in conduct for which one would ordinarily be assessed a modest fine.

On the subject of fines, both felony scenarios may also result in fines. Involuntary manslaughter charges risk a fine of no more than $7,500. Reckless driving causing death charges risk a minimum fine of $2,500 and a maximum fine of $10,000.

In each sentencing scenario, no mandatory minimum sentencing requirements force judges to hand down more severe sentences than justice requires. Each defendant can be sentenced according to a court’s discretion, provided that judges honor the maximum sentencing terms detailed by law.

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Statute Of Limitations

Each crime in Michigan is subject to a statute of limitations. This legal term designates the period within which prosecutors may file charges against a suspect. This period usually starts on the date the alleged legal violation occurred. If they fail to file charges within this timeframe, they may not do so after the statute of limitations period.

Both the misdemeanor charge of moving violation causing death and the felony charge of reckless driving causing death is governed by the six-year statute of limitations period. By contrast, involuntary manslaughter charges may be prosecuted up to 10 years after the date upon which a victim suffered fatal harm.

It is also important to note that the involuntary manslaughter 10-year limitations period doesn’t start to run until a victim’s identity has been confirmed under specific circumstances. Ordinarily, the statute of limitations begins running on the date upon which a victim suffers fatal harm. But if the victim’s identity is initially unknown and the death is reported to law enforcement within one year of their passing, this statute of limitations period doesn’t begin running until the date upon which their identity has been verified.

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Defenses for Negligent Homicide in Michigan

As noted above, prosecutors must prove each element of an offense beyond a reasonable doubt, or they cannot rightfully secure a conviction against the accused. As a result, criminal defense attorneys generally spend a great deal of effort trying to cast reasonable doubt on at least one element of a defendant’s case. This defensive strategy is utilized more than any other.

Often, attorneys may choose to employ additional or alternative defensive strategies when mounting a defense on behalf of their clients. For example, they may argue that their client was grappling with a sudden emergency and acted reasonably under the circumstances they faced.

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Additional Resources

Learn About the Michigan Court System | Michigan Courts – Visit the official website of the State’s judicial branch to read primers about Michigan trial courts and courts of appeal.

The Nation’s Two Measures of Homicide | U.S. Department of Justice – Browse this federal Bureau of Justice Statistics analysis to learn about the differences between negligent killing and murder and how patterns and trends related to homicide are tracked and processed in the U.S.

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Bloomfield Hills Negligent Homicide Lawyer | Oakland County, MI

If you have been charged with negligent homicide, it is important that you don’t try to go through this alone. An experienced attorney such as J. Dallo at Dallo Law, P.C. can help you navigate the legal system and protect your rights. With years of experience practicing criminal defense, he will make sure you receive the best legal representation you can possibility have.

Dallo Law, P.C. accepts clients throughout the greater Oakland County and Macomb County area including Bloomfield Hills, Pontiac, Troy, Rochester, West Bloomfield Township, Warren, Sterling Heights, and Utica. Call (248) 283-7000 to schedule a consultation with Dallo Law, P.C. today.

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