In an involuntary manslaughter charges the intent need not to be proven by the prosecution since malice is not an element of the crime. What they need to prove is that the killing occurred because of the act of the defendant, that this act was dangerous and done recklessly and the defendant was a threat to others. As a general rule, the criminal attorney needs to prove that any of the three elements was not existing to defend his or her client charged with an involuntary manslaughter case.
The severity of unintentional homicide charges depends on the defendant’s degree of negligence or recklessness. In such cases, the burden is on the prosecution to prove that the defendant caused the person’s death.
Here are some common legal defenses to involuntary manslaughter charges:
It Was in Self-Defense
An acquittal of involuntary manslaughter charges if defendants will proved that the act done was only to defend himself from imminent harm against the person killed. In California’s self defense statutes, for instance, they require those using this defense to prove that the defendant did not use more force that was unnecessary to protect his or herself.
Example: There was an intruder who enters your work and you fatally stabbed him with a pair of scissors as he was about to shoot his gun on you. This same defense can’t be used if the intruder was unarmed because there was no threat of imminent danger.
It Was an Accident
In the absence of negligence or recklessness, the accident happened that caused the death of the person may be set up as a defense. This particular defense shall set forth that the defendant was responsible when the act was done meaning there was no negligence or recklessness that resulted the death of another person.
Example: A professional baseball player hit the ball making contact with a 98-mile-hour fast ball and hit a fan in the temple which causes the fan to die because the ball hits his temple. Obviously, the baseball player had no intent of killing the fan because he was not acting negligently.
Prosecution Has Insufficient Evidence
The prosecutor have the burden of proof that the evidence is efficient for the case to prosper. The criminal defense attorney may question the sufficiency and validity of the evidence of the prosecution. This may be used as a defense. The reexamination of the evidence, interviewed witnesses ad other legal tactics may weaken the case of prosecution. Insufficiency of evidence might not secure a conviction.
Example: A woman arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter after her car hit and killed a pedestrian at night. Some witnesses claimed that the driver was driving fast while others says the opposite. It is now depending on the judge to decide based on a friend’s testimony stating that the driver likes to drive fast. They may also bring into defense that the victim was wearing dark clothing. Having evidentiary record will make it hard for the prosecution to proved the case.
I Was Falsely Accused / Wrongfully Arrested
This is a defense in criminal cases that popularly known as “I didn’t do it” defense. It is a defense where the police officer have arrested the wrong person and the actual perpetrator was still at large. In addition, individuals occasionally are arrested by overzealous police officers anxious to present a suspect to the district attorney. In any case, the prosecution needs to prove that the defendant is indeed the one who commits the crime.
Example: A car that speeds through a red light hits and kills a boy crossing the street and apparently leaving the poor boy helpless. Witnesses have different statements as to what really happened. To decide who the suspect is the police go with the majority of the opinion and arrest an individual who fits that description. It is the duty of the prosecution to prove if they have captured the right suspect or not.