Involuntary Manslaughter Law - Penal Code 192(b) PC

Most of the Involuntary Manslaughter cases that I see filed in Los Angeles County and San Fernando Valley courthouses are related to driving-related offenses where someone ends up being killed because of the actions of another person.

To convict someone for an involuntary manslaughter driving-related offense, the prosecutors must prove that the subject driver violated a traffic law, such as DUI. As a result of that violation, someone died.

That means that the prosecutors must prove two critical things. First, they must show that the person charged with Involuntary Manslaughter violated a law. Sometimes accidents happen, and someone dies, and no one breaks the law, and therefore, it is not suitable for the prosecutors to charge the person who survived the accident with a crime.

This is where a savvy defense attorney comes in to fight for the client and prove to a judge or jury that their client is innocent and should not be charged with a crime. Sometimes it is simply an accident, and it is not fair to set a crime.

Another important thing that the prosecutors must prove in these cases is that the person who violated the traffic law also was the cause of the death. Sometimes just because a person violates a law does not mean that they are responsible for the end.

This causation issue is essential in Involuntary Manslaughter cases and can be a powerful defense for clients charged with these crimes. Sometimes the person who dies is responsible for their death, and the other party in the accident should not be held as the cause.

Again, this is where a seasoned criminal defense attorney is invaluable in saving the day for their client. Sometimes there has to be a fight for what is right. Finally, there are scenarios where more than one cause of an accident. In this case, for the prosecutors to convict someone of Involuntary Manslaughter, they will have to prove that the person they want to charge was a “substantial factor” in the accident that resulted in the death.

These cases are complicated, and only the best defense attorneys should be dealing with them. If you or a loved one is in trouble, come and sit down with me, and we will figure out your best defense.

Accident Reconstruction Experts 

I've been doing these involuntary manslaughter cases under California Penal Code 192b for many years as a criminal defense attorney, and it's interesting which cases the prosecutor's file and which ones they don't file. I've seen them file many cases that were just garbage cases. They should have never been filed at the criminal level.

If you're out there driving and you make a mistake, and a terrible accident occurs, and somebody dies, that's not a crime. The crime comes in when you're doing something criminal and somebody dies.

That's really where we're having a problem here. These guys are taking traffic infractions where somebody dies tragically and turning them into a criminal case against another person. It's crazy because they usually take about a year to investigate. You wonder what the hell these guys are doing for a year if they can't decide within a month or two as far as whether or not this is a criminal act.

Part of it is they're doing accident reconstruction stuff. The accident reconstruction experts they use are horrible. I get my accident reconstruction expert who knows what they're doing, takes their time, looks at it, and says, yes, this is a complete joke what these guys did here, and there's no way your client should be charged with a crime. There's a defect in the road or some other issue going on that doesn't warrant a criminal filing.

So, that's the first issue. When I meet with somebody to discuss an involuntary manslaughter case in the San Fernando Valley, we're talking about whether this is a crime. That's something that not only the law covers, where you look at the specific case law related to an involuntary manslaughter situation, but also, as a criminal defense attorney who's done a lot of these cases, in your gut, you can tell when it's a case that should be filed and when it's a case that shouldn't be filed.

If someone is driving around like a jerk racing and kills somebody, that person will have to take responsibility. They're racing on the street. It's foreseeable that if you're going to run around the city streets or on the freeway, somebody will die, and you're going to be held responsible for that. We get that as long as you don't take that too far. I've seen the prosecutors take that to a murder charge, which in most cases, it's too much — especially if there's no alcohol involved.

So, if you have an involuntary manslaughter case, you better get to somebody who knows what they're doing because there's a lot at stake here. Besides getting hit with a criminal record, you're also looking at jail time and other penalties. You're looking at being sued by the other party. They will take that criminal conviction and try to use it against you.

Legal Definition of Involuntary Manslaughter

Involuntary manslaughter is the act of unlawfully killing another human being unintentional. Unlike murder or voluntary manslaughter, there is no intent to kill. Involuntary manslaughter is defined under California Penal Code section 192(b) as an unlawful killing that takes place during the commission of an illegal act such as a misdemeanor or infraction or during a commission of a lawful act that involves a high risk of death, or great bodily harm committed recklessly amounting to criminal negligence.

For an act to be considered criminally negligent, the death must have been a foreseeable consequence of the reckless and negligent act. If you are convicted of involuntary manslaughter, you may face up to 4 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

Our Manslaughter Attorneys at the Hedding Law Firm will assert any applicable defenses on your behalf. For example, suppose you have a reasonable belief that you were protecting yourself or another person from immediate death or great bodily harm. In that case, we may assert the defense of self-defense or the protection of others.

Another defense is the defense of accidents, meaning that you had no intent to cause harm and did not act in a reckless and criminally negligent manner. Other defenses are insufficient evidence, false accusations, and wrongful arrest. We will investigate the charges thoroughly and do everything we can to build a strong case on your behalf and get you the best possible results. 

Determining a Strategy Decision for Best Outcome

I do a lot of these involuntary manslaughter cases. As I said, we get you in. We sit down. We talk about it. We get our strategy together. That's the first step as far as exactly how we will handle this criminal case.

Once we make that strategy decision, we put the pieces in place. If we decide that this is a ridiculous case and it shouldn't be charged against you, we're going to show that this accident is either not your fault or it's just mere negligence, and they shouldn't have trusted you with anything.

We'll get an accident reconstruction expert; we'll give him all the information and let him sit down and put the pieces together so that we can defend you properly and get the whole story out there — your version of events and what happened — and then we can challenge the prosecutors and get to the bosses who are going to look at this case and say, you're right. This is ridiculous.

So, some involuntary manslaughter cases should be filed; and then some shouldn't. There are all kinds of different strategies that can be utilized in these cases. You have to have the best attorney, though, on your side, obviously, and you have to put everything together to defend yourself and get the best result and not suffer some of these horrible consequences that can come along with an involuntary manslaughter case.

So, make the phone call to the Hedding Law Firm. Get in. Let's sit down and talk about it. Let's get our strategy together and get you on the road to taking control of your criminal case and getting out of the criminal justice system as fast as possible.