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Involuntary Manslaughter

Involuntary manslaughter is a lower-level “killing” offense. When someone has been killed by another, the individual accused of killing the victim may be charged with involuntary manslaughter in some circumstances, as opposed to voluntary manslaughter and murder, which are higher-level killing offenses.

Involuntary manslaughter is distinct from voluntary manslaughter. The alleged offender’s intent is the distinguishing factor that broadly sets these two offenses apart. Individuals accused of voluntary manslaughter allegedly intended to commit serious bodily harm against the victim. By contrast, someone accused of involuntary manslaughter allegedly killed the victim but did so without malice and without intention.

A conviction of voluntary manslaughter is possible if the accused did not intend to commit serious bodily harm against the victim but was grossly negligent in their conduct concerning the victim’s safety. However, the intent is usually what distinguishes these two homicide offenses.

Michigan Involuntary Manslaughter Attorney

If you or someone you know is facing charges for involuntary manslaughter, it is important to speak with a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Attorney J. Dallo at Dallo Law, P.C. is here to provide you with the skilled legal representation needed to combat your case. He will carefully review your case, build a strong defense, and protect your rights.

Dallo Law, P.C. serves 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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Information Center

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Elements of Involuntary Manslaughter Offense in Michigan

If each element of a criminal charge isn’t proven beyond a reasonable doubt, prosecutors can’t rightfully convict someone accused of wrongdoing. In most involuntary manslaughter cases, these three elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt:

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

Sometimes, juries are permitted to consider an involuntary manslaughter charge instead of a higher-level homicide offense. It is worth emphasizing that no intent element is connected to a standard involuntary manslaughter charge. Someone who didn’t intend to harm anyone can be convicted of this offense.

It is also noteworthy that Michigan criminalizes the injury of a pregnant person that results in the involuntary termination of that pregnancy under certain circumstances. This charge is called a “willful killing of an unborn quick child,” although this label is misleading. An involuntary termination of pregnancy resulting from injury to a mother doesn’t need to occur willfully and may, therefore, be charged as involuntary manslaughter. If the mother’s fatal injuries are classified as murder, the involuntary termination of her pregnancy is classified as manslaughter.

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Penalties for Involuntary Manslaughter in Michigan

Courts in Michigan have discretion when sentencing an individual convicted of involuntary manslaughter. In many states, mandatory minimums are imposed for many violent crimes. In a mandatory minimum state, an individual convicted of an offense governed by a mandatory minimum sentencing term cannot serve any less time in prison than is specified by statute. In Michigan, the court is given a maximum sentence that may be imposed, not a minimum one.

A conviction for involuntary manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, a fine of up to $7,500, or both. However, the court may order a far less lengthy prison term and a lower fine.

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Statute Of Limitations

Michigan law enforcement agents and prosecutors are restricted by legal timelines known as statutes of limitations. Suppose charges aren’t filed against a suspect within the statute of limitations timeframe specified by state law. In that case, that individual can no longer be charged with criminal wrongdoing related to the offense in question.

In Michigan, the statute of limitations that governs involuntary manslaughter charges is 10 years. So if charges aren’t filed against an individual within 10 years of the death of the victim in question, that individual can no longer be held accountable for alleged wrongdoing.

The sole exception to this timeframe involves situations where the victim is initially unidentified. Suppose the death in question is reported to law enforcement within one year of the victim’s passing. In that case, charges can be filed against a suspect within 10 years after the victim is ultimately identified. Although the statute of limitations remains 10 years under these circumstances, the limitations period doesn’t begin to “run” until after the victim’s identity has been confirmed.

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Defenses for Involuntary Manslaughter in Michigan

Various defense strategies may be employed when a lawyer advocates for an individual charged with involuntary manslaughter. The most common defensive strategy involves creating reasonable doubt concerning any or all elements of the offense. If a prosecutor only falls short in proving a single element beyond a reasonable doubt, an accused individual cannot be rightfully convicted.

To mitigate reasonable doubt, an attorney can raise questions about whether the defendant’s actions caused the victim’s death or whether some other factor ultimately led to the death in question. Or they can call the allegation of “gross negligence” of their client’s actions into question. Finally, they can argue that the defendant did engage in injurious conduct but did so with “lawful excuse or justification,” meaning some exception within the law renders the defendant’s conduct excusable.

Mitigating the “grossly negligent” nature of a defendant’s conduct is often a good strategy when an individual is accused of involuntary manslaughter in the wake of a genuine accident. Not all accidents occur because someone should have taken significantly more care. Sometimes, they just happen.

Finally, strategies of asserting self-defense or defense of another are commonly raised in involuntary manslaughter cases. If an individual is acting to protect themselves or others from a reasonably perceived threat of imminent, serious bodily harm, their actions are usually considered lawful. As a result, they may avoid legal accountability for the consequences of their legitimately defensive actions.

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Additional Resources

Frequently Asked Questions | Michigan Courts – Visit the official website of the Michigan State judicial system to browse answers to frequently asked questions, access cases, opinions, and orders, and review court rules.

Defense Function | American Bar Association – Visit the official website of the American Bar Association to learn about the standards that criminal defense attorneys must uphold when representing the interests of their clients.

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Bloomfield Hills Involuntary Manslaughter Lawyer | Oakland County, MI

If you have been arrested for involuntary manslaughter in Michigan, speak with experienced criminal defense lawyer J. Dallo at Dallo Law, P.C. today. He will review every defense available for your case and apply the one with the greatest potential of relieving you from criminal prosecution. With years of experience in criminal defense, attorney Dallo is prepared to obtain the most favorable outcome.

Call Dallo Law, P.C. at (248) 283-7000 now to arrange a consultation today and speak with attorney J. Dallo about your legal options. Dallo Law, P.C. is located in Bloomfield Hills, but we accept clients throughout Oakland County and Macomb County, Michigan.

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