February 8, 2010 By Wallin & Klarich

On February 8, 2010 Michael Jackson’s Doctor has plead not guilty to involuntary manslaughter. Dr. Conrad Murray, a Houston cardiologist who was with Michael Jackson when he died on June 25, 2009, was accused today of being criminally responsible for his death.

Dr. Murray has been accused of giving Michael Jackson a lethal dose of propofol, an anesthetic that is used for sedation. It is believed by some that Michael Jackson was addicted to propofol, which he used to help him sleep.

Although Dr. Murray is accused of being responsible for the death of Michael Jackson, he is charged with involuntary manslaughter. Involuntary manslaughter is different from murder.

Murder is the when someone commits an act that caused the death of another person with malice aforethought. Malice aforethought is a state of mind. It requires knowledge that through an action or omission, the result will be someone’s death. Malice can be expressed or implied. It is expressed when someone shows a deliberate intention to kill someone. It can be implied when there is no considerable provocation or when the circumstances show an abandoned or malignant heart.

First degree murder is a type of murder. First degree murder is usually charged when the killing was done with deliberation and premeditation. This means that the killing was planned out by the defendant. The punishment for first degree murder can be punished by death, life imprisonment, or 25 years to life imprisonment. See California Penal Code Section 190. In this case, Dr. Murray is not accused of killing Michael Jackson with deliberation or premeditation. This is why Dr. Murray is charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Manslaughter is a killing of another human being in a manner considered by law to be less culpable than murder. Manslaughter can be voluntary or involuntary. Punishment for manslaughter is not as severe as a punishment for murder.

A defendant is charged with voluntary manslaughter when the killing occurred in a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion. The defendant must have been provoked, and the defendant’s emotion was intense enough to where his reasoning or judgment was obscured. Also, the defendant must have acted in a way that the average person would have acted. The usual example of voluntary manslaughter is when a husband catches his wife in bed with another man. The husband then gets so mad that he kills the other man. He would be charged with voluntary manslaughter in this situation. Voluntary manslaughter is punishable for up to 11 years in prison. See California Penal Code Section 193. The facts of the Michael Jackson case do not apply to voluntary manslaughter.

Involuntary manslaughter is charged when a person commits an unlawful killing but does not intend to kill and does not act with conscious disregard for human life. Involuntary manslaughter involves a defendant committing a crime that poses a high risk of death or serious bodily injury, and that act kills someone. It can also be a lawful act by the defendant, but the act was done with criminal negligence, which leads to a death of someone else. Criminal negligence is when the defendant acts so different from the way an ordinarily careful person would act in the same situation, and the act amounts to disregard for human life or indifference to the consequences of the act. A conviction of involuntary manslaughter is punishable for up to four years in state prison. See California Penal Code Section 193.

In Dr. Murray’s case, he is charged with involuntary manslaughter. He is accused of giving Michael Jackson a lethal dose of propofol. He is facing up to four years in prison. He is not accused of purposefully killing Michael Jackson. If this matter was to go to a jury trial, the question for the jury will be whether Dr. Murray acted “with criminal negligence” during his medical treatment of Michael Jackson. This case will most assuredly be watched very closely by those in the medical profession who have to exercise “independent judgment” on a daily basis as to how to properly provide medical care to their patients.

Wallin & Klarich has over 30 years of experience defending the rights of our clients. Involuntary manslaughter is a serious crime and if you or a loved one is charged with this crime, it is essential that you contact the aggressive Southern California criminal defense lawyers at Wallin & Klarich. We will continue to monitor this case, and it may make a difference in your case. Call us at (888) 749-0034 to learn more about your legal rights or visit www.wklaw.com for valuable information. We will be there when you call.

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