Defenses to Criminally Negligent Homicide

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There is intentional homicide (murder) and there is negligent homicide (an accident leading to a death). Of course, the two differ by way of “intent”; what the defendant’s state of mind was at the time of the incident. State of mind goes a long way in determining the crime for which the prosecutors will charge the defendant, and the punishment that will be determined by the court at time of trial.

The crime of negligent homicide indicates that there has been a death, and that the death was not intentional. It is a crime whereby an individual causes the death of another individual through an act of negligence. The focus is then on “risk” and the defendant’s “state of mind” at the time of the accident. Did the defendant understand the risks associated with his actions; did he know that his actions might cause serious injury or death to another individual; and did he intentionally disregard the risk and act anyway? Criminal negligence is defined as conduct that is a gross deviation from what is considered normal conduct by the reasonable standards of ordinary people. In short, it is conduct that acts in total disregard for human life or safety. The defendant’s “state of mind” goes to a determination asking if the defendant understood the risks, whether he also may intended the consequences.

Penalties and Legal Defenses to Criminal Negligence

Criminal negligence usually involves such crimes as criminally negligent homicide; negligent endangerment of a child; and negligent driving of an automobile, possibly “vehicular homicide.” The penalties will normally be based on the underlying crime for which negligence is attaching. For example, for a charge of criminally negligent homicide, the defendant could possibly face a penalty that would be associated with any other type of homicide claim, such as second degree murder or manslaughter, which would include prison time. However, the “negligent” instead of “intentional” conduct of the defendant may mitigate the crime and the punishment so that the defendant’s prison sentence would not be as lengthy as it normally would be. Less serious criminal negligence may be punishable by a fine or jail time, generally less than a year. One of the defenses to criminal negligence would be involuntary intoxication, which will negate intent.

Involuntary Intoxication as a Defense

The involuntary intoxication defense to criminal negligence simply means that the defendant, through no fault of his own, lacked the intent to commit the crime he is being accused of. This may occur if an individual was given an intoxicant without knowing it, and his subsequent actions were deemed negligent.

Negligent homicide is a crime whereby the defendant’s negligent conduct results in the death of another individual. In order to mitigate the punishment for the crime, defendant must show that he did not intend the consequences of his actions, or that he didn’t act in a negligent manner. If charged with a negligent homicide, any defenses that you may have will need to be presented to the court during trial. It is critical that, if charged with any crime, you contact an experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel to work with you as soon as possible. If you are facing criminal charges in Dayton, please contact the VanNoy Firm online by clicking here, or give us a call at 937-952-5043 or Toll Free at 1-800-CRIMINAL.