Involuntary Manslaughter vs. Criminally Negligent Homicide

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Involuntary Manslaughter vs. Criminally Negligent Homicide

Involuntary manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide both involve causing the death of another person. But as similar as they sound, they are not the same crime. 

Arizona’s laws regarding both crimes are complex and carry different penalties. Below, we compare involuntary manslaughter vs. criminally negligent homicide, and explain the key differences between the two.  

Involuntary Manslaughter vs. Criminally Negligent Homicide: What’s the Difference?

What Is Involuntary Manslaughter?

Involuntary manslaughter occurs when someone unintentionally kills another person. It can happen during a non-violent crime, or because of conduct that is not inherently dangerous. 

According to Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) 13-1103, manslaughter is classified as any of the following circumstances: 

  • Recklessly causing someone else’s death, such as driving under the influence and causing an accident that kills someone.
  • Committing second-degree murder (intentionally killing someone without premeditation) during a sudden dispute or in the “heat of passion” after being provoked by the victim.
  • Assisting someone’s suicide by intentionally providing the means (such as drugs or a weapon) while knowing what they plan to do with it. Adults over 18 can also be prosecuted for intentionally encouraging a minor to commit suicide. 
  • Committing second-degree murder by recklessly engaging in conduct that puts others at the risk of death, while being forced to do it by someone who is threatening to use or using unlawful deadly physical force on the defendant or another person.
  • Intentionally or recklessly killing an unborn child (during any stage of development) by physically harming the mother in any way. However, the unborn child’s mother, a person performing an abortion with the mother’s consent, or a person performing medical treatment on the mother or unborn child can not be prosecuted for this offense. 

What Are the Penalties for Involuntary Manslaughter?

Involuntary manslaughter is considered a class 2 felony. It is a serious crime that can carry 3 to 21 years in prison for a first offense. A felony conviction of any kind also comes with up to $150,000 in fines, as well as additional fees and surcharges. 

What Is Criminally Negligent Homicide?

According to Arizona Revised Statute 13-1102, criminally negligent homicide occurs when someone causes the death of another person (or an unborn child) through criminal negligence

Criminal negligence is a failure to exercise reasonable care that results in harm to another person. For example, a doctor who fails to diagnose a serious medical condition that leads to their patient’s wrongful death can face a criminally negligent homicide charge. 

But, just like involuntary manslaughter, a person can not be prosecuted for the death of an unborn child in Arizona if:

  • They were performing an abortion with the mother’s consent
  • They were performing medical treatment on the mother or her unborn child
  • The person was the mother

What Are the Penalties for Criminally Negligent Homicide?

Criminally negligent homicide is classified as a class 4 felony. A first-time conviction could carry 1 to 8 years of prison time. As with all felonies, penalties can include up to $150,000 in fines, plus additional fees and surcharges. 

Criminal Defense Lawyer in Scottsdale, Arizona

If you are facing charges of involuntary manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide, it’s crucial that you seek advice from an experienced criminal defense lawyer. The Van Norman Law team can help you understand the charges brought against you and develop a strong defense strategy that protects your rights. 

We’re committed to helping you achieve the best possible outcome for your case. Call our law firm at 480-481-0616 today to schedule a free consultation. 


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