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NY Penal Law § 125.11: Aggravated Criminally Negligent Homicide

Although the crime of homicide frequently involves intentionally causing the death of another individual, it can also involve bringing about the death of another person through negligence.  Whether the killing is intentional or unintentional, if the victim is a peace officer or a police officer, the crime is viewed as a more serious offense. The offense of criminally negligent homicide involves bringing about the death of a peace officer or a police officer by acting in a manner that could be considered reckless, inattentive, or careless.  You could be prosecuted for aggravated criminally negligent homicide under New York Penal Law § 125.11 if, with criminal negligence, you kill a police officer or a peace officer who was in the act of performing his or her official duties. Pursuant to New York Penal Law § 15.05(4), behaving with “criminal negligence” means that you neglected to perceive a substantial risk that your actions or inaction would bring about the death of another individual. According to the statute, the risk must constitute a gross deviation from the customary standard of care that a reasonable person would observe under the circumstances.

For Example

Dominick was driving his car down the street, and at the same time, he was on his phone in a heated text conversation. Due to the fact that he was not completely focused on the road, he was driving erratically. A number of other drivers had to swerve their vehicles in order to avoid colliding with Dominick because of his reckless behavior.  Nonetheless, with a maverick confidence in his driving skills, he continued to text and drive.  Tragically, Dominick ended up running off the road onto a sidewalk, where he hit and killed an innocent bystander. The bystander was an off duty police officer. While Dominick’s actions could arguably considered to have been criminal negligence, Dominick could not be prosecuted for aggravated criminally negligent homicide.  Although he could certainly be charged with other crimes, this charge is not valid for him since the police officer that he struck and killed was not in the process of performing his official duties.

Offenses that are Related

Criminally negligent homicide: New York Penal Law § 125.10

Manslaughter in the first degree: New York Penal Law § 125.20

Possible Defenses

If you get charged with aggravated criminally negligent homicide, a valid defense against the charge would be to demonstrate that your actions should not be considered to have been a gross deviation from the way a reasonable person would behave under similar circumstances. On top of that, if you can show that you had no way of knowing that the victim was a police officer or a peace officer, then the charge of aggravated criminally negligent homicide would not hold. In the same vein, if the victim was a police officer, but the officer was not in the process of carrying out his or her official duties, then you did not commit the crime of aggravated criminally negligent homicide.

The Sentence

Since aggravated criminally negligent homicide is a class C felony, if you are convicted, you could spend up to 15 years in state prison and be required to pay a substantial fine.

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