What Is the Penalty for Involuntary Manslaughter?

What Is the Penalty for Involuntary Manslaughter?

What Is the Penalty for Involuntary Manslaughter?

The penalty for involuntary manslaughter varies widely by state but usually carries a minimum sentence of 12 months in prison plus fines and probation, according to FindLaw. Involuntary manslaughter is considered a felony in all jurisdictions of the United States. Most states base their sentencing guidelines on Federal law, which requires a prison sentence of 12 to 16 months with increased penalties for extremely reckless and automobile-related manslaughter.

According to FindLaw, involuntary manslaughter is defined as causing another person's death through reckless behavior or the commission of a crime (other than the intent to kill). The penalty for involuntary manslaughter is not as severe as the penalty for most other forms of homicide. State sentencing guidelines generally provide a broad range of sentence options, and judges have discretion on deciding how stiff a penalty to impose. Judges generally evaluate aggravating and mitigating factors in deciding on a sentence. Aggravating factors include the defendant's history or reckless conduct and criminal history, which can result in a stiffer sentence. Mitigating factors include the defendant's acceptance of responsibility or lack of criminal history, which can result in a lighter sentence. The disparity in sentencing guidelines between different jurisdictions can be seen by contrasting the cases of Johannes Mehserle and Tommy Morgan. A California court sentenced Mehserle, a police officer, to two years in prison for accidentally shooting and killing a suspect. A federal court sentenced Morgan to one year in prison for killing a man while driving drunk.