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Negligent Homicide + Laws, Charges & Statute of Limitations

Reckless behavior that results in the killing of a person is called negligent homicide. How does this differ from general homicide? The lack of intent and malice makes negligent homicide different from homicide in general. A fatal vehicle accident is the most common type of negligent homicide.

Negligent Homicide

The general definition of homicide is the killing of someone by another person. Negligent homicide is a result of negligent behavior absent of malice. In most states, there is a difference between homicide and negligent homicide. Therefore, some different laws and charges are attributed to each.

Depending on the state, sometimes negligent homicide is also referred to as involuntary manslaughter. Negligent homicide falls under the statue of homicide and it is tried at the state level. It is not a federal crime. At the state level, usually, negligence homicide is ranked at the lowest level of offenses where another person dies.

Laws That Advise Negligent Homicide

Many states have their statutes and policies for homicide. In general, the 18 United States Code Chapter 51 is what covers negligent homicide. It is important to note that some states only refer to negligent homicide in terms of voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. In such a case, there is no recognition of negligent homicide.

Statute of Limitations

Statute of limitations is the maximum amount of time in which a legal proceeding can be initiated. There are different statutes of limitations concerning negligent homicide by state. Typically, many states honor the penal code which means they do not place a statute of limitations on any charges concerning murder.

For the majority of felony charges, there is a statute of limitations of 6 years. This is important to know, because some states may charge negligent homicide as a felony charge of murder. Each case is independent and can be tried differently.

What are the crimes and charges associated with negligent homicide?

A few factors must be determined for charges to be pursued for negligent homicide. To be charged with negligent homicide, the following must be proven:

• The defendant’s knowledge or reckless behavior
• The verification of omission
• Demonstrated causation

First, a plaintiff will have to prove that the defendant knew he/she was participating in reckless behavior. Any unjustifiable risk to be proven can cause a defendant to be charged with negligent homicide.

Another factor to prove is that some sort of omission was involved in the crime. An act of omission can lead to a charge. If it can be proven that the victim could have lived if not for the homicide, this is enough to be charged with negligent homicide.

A clear cause and effect action must also be proved. The question of, did your actions lead to the death of a person? If this can be proven, charges will ensue.

What is the punishment of negligent homicide?

If you had to rank the types of homicide, negligent homicide ranks at the lowest tier. Although it is the lowest ranking, it is still a very serious crime and offense. Punishment can vary by state. No matter what state you live in, you can potentially expect the following forms of punishment:

• Jail/prison time
• Probation
• The possibility of fines

If convicted, not everyone will receive all three. Each state determines its own punishment. In some states, there are minimum sentences associated with this crime. In a state like Alaska, there is no set minimum sentence for negligent homicide, but they do have a ten-year maximum.

In general, you can expect a prison sentence that ranges from 6 months – 10 years. Negligent homicide cases are complicated. You can potentially face civil court proceedings as well.

Sentencing Guidelines for Negligent Homicide

Some states have minimum and maximum sentencing guidelines. Outside of these factors, a judge will consider specific aspects of the case to determine the sentence. Things such as the level and type of reckless behavior take part in sentencing. Substance abuse or being under the influence also plays a role.

When dealing with a vehicle accident, weather conditions are a factor in the case. A prison sentence, parole possibility, and probation are all influenced by the outside contributors of the case.


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