Manslaughter Charges in Indiana: Penalties and Defenses

When someone dies as a result of your actions, without the intent of taking their life, the correct classification of the charge is manslaughter, not murder. However, as an Evansville criminal defense attorney knows, prosecutors always push for the most severe charges and sentencing they can obtain.

Today, we will discuss the various degrees of manslaughter charges and how an experienced lawyer will build your defense, in order to get these charges dismissed or obtain a more lenient sentence.

Types of Manslaughter Charges in Indiana

Just like other offenses against life, manslaughter charges are classified based on the intent to take life. Although, to the layman, any kind of intent would let one believe that the corresponding charge must be murder, in reality, there are subtle differences in the way legislators interpret a perpetrator’s actions.

Our state identifies the following three types of manslaughter:

1. Voluntary Manslaughter

The charge of voluntary manslaughter refers to the intentional killing of another person in the heat of the moment. This means that there was no premeditation to the act. Instead, an argument degenerated into a violent physical attack. The perpetrator did not plan to kill the other person; however, they were aware that their actions could result in death to the other person.

The same charge of voluntary manslaughter applies if a fetus dies as a result of an intentional attack in the heat of the moment.

In Indiana, voluntary manslaughter is a Level 2 felony, and carries the following penalties:

  • 10 to 30 years in prison and
  • Up to $10,000 fine

2. Involuntary Manslaughter

The offense of involuntary manslaughter represents killing a person while committing or attempting to commit:

  • A Level 5 or Level 6 felony that poses an inherent risk of bodily injury
  • Battery
  • A class A misdemeanor that poses an inherent risk of bodily injury

The same charge applies to the act of killing a fetus while committing or attempting to commit the same offenses as in the case of a person, to which is added the offense of operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

prosecution always tries to charge you with the most severe crime

What differentiates this charge from voluntary manslaughter is the lack of intent. Typically, involuntary manslaughter charges stem from accidents.

Involuntary manslaughter is a Level 5 felony and carries the penalties:

  • 1 to 6 years in prison and
  • Maximum $10,000 fine

3. Reckless Homicide

Finally, this offense represents recklessly taking a human life without the intent of perpetrating this act against anyone in particular. However, the perpetrator’s actions pose a substantial risk of bodily injury and they are done intentionally, knowingly or recklessly.

Although they did not intend to kill anyone, the perpetrator was aware that they could have caused bodily harm to someone, yet ignored this risk. This is a Level 5 felony, carrying the following penalties:

  • 1 to 6 years in prison and
  • Maximum $10,000 fine

Potential Defenses to Manslaughter Charges

An experienced Evansville criminal defense lawyer may find many mitigating circumstances in your actions and push for a dismissal of the manslaughter charges or getting a fair plea bargain.

Some effective defenses to the charges are:

  • Accident – you were unaware that your actions would cause bodily harm and did not intend to hurt anyone
  • Self-defense – your actions were in response to a violent attack and reasonably used physical force to protect yourself from injury or death
  • Defending someone – you acted to protect another person (usually a spouse or children) from bodily injury or death
  • Mistaken identity – eyewitnesses may have incorrectly identified you as the perpetrator, especially in a brawl involving several people or at night
  • False accusation – someone identifies you as the perpetrator in revenge

In criminal cases, the prosecution has the burden of proof and they must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the charges against you. In many situations charges are dropped or you are found not guilty due to insufficient evidence.

Also, having a solid alibi for the relevant period of time when the violent action happened will help your attorney get your charges dismissed.

Consult with an Experienced Evansville Criminal Defense Attorney!

Being charged with any homicide offense is a shocking experience for anyone, especially when you had no intent to harm anyone. However, accidents happen and people may die as a result of them.

In this situation, you need to start preparing your defense as soon as possible. Verdelski Miller is an Evansville criminal defense attorney with over 30 years of experience and over 85 jury trials.

As a new client, you will benefit from a free case evaluation, so call us today at 812-247-6453!

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