A jury can convict you of "involuntary manslaughter" in Nevada even if you have no intent to harm anyone. The punishment will consist of a lengthy prison sentence, a possible fine, and a tarnished criminal record that may keep potential employers from hiring you. Our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys explain the law below:
The legal definition of "involuntary manslaughter" in Nevada
The legal definition of involuntary manslaughter in Las Vegas, Nevada, is "the killing of a human being, without any intent to do so, in the commission of an unlawful act, or a lawful act which probably might produce such a consequence in an unlawful manner."
Therefore, prosecutors may bring involuntary manslaughter charges in cases where they believe the suspect's negligence led to the fatality. Common scenarios include:
- Handling a loaded gun that by accident goes off and kills someone
- Shooting and killing a person while mistaking the person for an animal you were hunting
- A child dying from ingesting poison you left out within the child's reach
The Nevada offense of "second-degree murder" is more serious than involuntary manslaughter: Although both types of homicide require no intent to kill, second-degree murder encompasses situations where the suspect acts recklessly (instead of just negligently) and in a way that naturally tends to kill . . . typical examples are playing Russian roulette or throwing a heavy object off a roof into a crowd below.
Note that involuntary manslaughter is a separate crime carrying different penalties from the Nevada Crime of Reckless Driving Causing Death (NRS 484.653), the Nevada Crime of Vehicular Manslaughter (NRS 484B.657), the Nevada Crime of Causing Death while Evading a Police Signal to Stop (NRS 484B.550).
Involuntary manslaughter is also completely different from the Nevada crime of voluntary manslaughter, which refers to homicides committed without malice aforethought and "in the heat of the moment." It also carries steeper penalties.
Nevada manslaughter law vs. Federal manslaughter Law
The federal definition of involuntary manslaughter is very similar to Nevada's. However a federal conviction of involuntary manslaughter carries up to eight years in prison, which is twice as harsh as Nevada law. Read more about federal manslaughter law in Nevada in our article on federal manslaughter law in Nevada.
There is nothing more terrifying than being charged with homicide, But remember the state has the burden to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt-an extremely high standard. The following are just a few common defenses your attorney may use when defending you in court:
- Self-defense. Nevada self-defense law allows you to fight back even to the death as long as your actions were reasonable and not out of proportion.
- Insanity. If your attorney can show that you were insane at the time of the killing, any homicide charge should be dismissed. However, this may be a difficult defense to prove and often requires extensive medical tests and experts.
- Lack of unlawful act or negligent behavior. If your attorney can show that you did not behave negligently or unlawfully and that the death was a total accident, then involuntary manslaughter charges should not be sustained.
Penalties (NRS 200.090)
As a category D felony in Nevada, involuntary manslaughter carries the following punishment:
In Nevada murder law cases where the state's evidence is weak but prosecutors are still unwilling to dismiss the case outright, they may be agreeable to reducing the charge down to involuntary manslaughter. This may be a beneficial plea bargain to accept since the minimum sentence is only one year, whereas murder sentences may carry life in prison or worse.
Arrested for involuntary manslaughter? Then call us right away . . .
Our attorney Michael Becker has been fighting homicide cases for more than twenty years and has achieved multiple dismissals in first-degree murder cases. If you are facing charges for involuntary manslaughter (NRS 200.070) in Nevada, call our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) right away for a free consultation to discuss your options.
For information about California Involuntary Manslaughter law, go to our page on California Involuntary Manslaughter law.