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NY Penal Law § 125.15: Manslaughter in the Second Degree

If any actions that you take result in the death of another individual, even if it was not your intention that the person die, you could be charged with a serious criminal offense. There are different terms in the New York criminal code used to describe criminal offenses related to causing the death of another person. The term “murder” is defined as killing someone with the intent to do so, while the term “manslaughter” is defined as bringing about someone’s death without the intent to do so. Manslaughter cases generally tend to involve recklessness, negligence, or heat of passion.  You could be prosecuted under New York Penal Law § 125.15 for the crime of manslaughter in the second degree if:

  1. You recklessly bring about the death of another individual,
  2. You carry out an illegal abortion on a woman and the woman dies as a result, or
  3. You intentionally assist someone in committing their own suicide.

Pursuant to New York Penal Law § 15.05(3), behaving “recklessly” as referred to in the manslaughter in the second degree statute is defined as having knowledge that your actions present a substantial risk that a person could be killed and showing disregard for that risk.

A Case Law Example

The defendant in this case, Mr. Jose Maldonado, stole a minivan. He then drove the van at high speeds, running through red lights, and breaking various other traffic laws in an effort to flee from police who were pursuing him. Ultimately, he struck and killed a pedestrian. At first, Mr. Maldonado was convicted of murder in the second degree on the basis of his depraved indifference. In an interesting turn of events, his conviction was later brought down to manslaughter in the second degree. The reason for this was that the court found that Mr. Maldonado did not have the requisite intent for a murder conviction. Finding that Mr. Maldonado’s actions, although clearly reckless, were not intentional, the court reduced his conviction to manslaughter in the second degree. His case was the  People v. Maldonado, 2014 NY Slip Op 4878 (N.Y., 2014)

Offenses that are Related

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

Criminally negligent homicide: New York Penal Law § 125.10

Possible Defenses

If you get charged with manslaughter in the second degree on the basis of your reckless behavior, then a plausible defense against the charge would be that your actions should not be classified as reckless as defined by the statute. For instance, if you can demonstrate that the death of the victim occurred as a result of an accident where no recklessness was involved, then you might have a good defense against a manslaughter in the second charge.

The Sentence

Due to the fact that manslaughter in the second degree is categorized as a class C felony, if you are convicted, you could be sentenced to serve up to 15 years in state prison.  You could also be required to pay a substantial fine.

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