May 12, 2010 By Wallin & Klarich

It’s almost never the case in incidents involving involuntary manslaughter that the defendant had intended to kill the victim, but unfortunately a death does in fact occur under the circumstances – even in the absence of any murderous intent. Consequently, the defendant will still face involuntary manslaughter charges as long as the killing was the result of the defendant’s own wrongful conduct or recklessness.

Under California Penal Code Section 192(b), involuntary manslaughter is the unlawful killing that results from an improper use of reasonable care or skill while performing a lawful act, or while committing an act that is unlawful but also not felonious.

To illustrate involuntary manslaughter charges stemming from the failure to exercise reasonable care or skill while performing a lawful act, consider the allegations against Dr. Conrad Murray, who had been Michael Jackson’s personal physician. Murray is charged with involuntary manslaughter for causing the death of the beloved pop star by allegedly treating his insomnia with lethal doses of a powerful anesthetic called propofol.

The issue will revolve around whether administering such a large dose would demonstrate an extreme lack of reasonable care or skill (criminal negligence) on the part of Dr. Murray. Although there is nothing inherently illegal about a doctor administering drugs to a patient, it could be the basis for involuntary manslaughter if it was done in a manner that was drastically unreasonable.

The punishment for involuntary manslaughter include imprisonment for up to four years in state prison. It may also include fines of up $10,000.

Fortunately, there are viable defenses that can help reduce the penalties or dismiss the charge altogether. An experienced criminal defense attorney can formulate and assert these defenses on your behalf. Depending on the facts of your case, your attorney may argue the reasonableness of your actions given the circumstances or claim that the killing was a justifiable homicide (e.g., self-defense, defense of others, etc.).

If you would like learn more about involuntary manslaughter and the options that are available to you if find yourself charged of this crime, visit our website at and read our “Involuntary Manslaughter” section.

At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 30 years of experience in handling involuntary manslaughter cases. They will meticulously analyze the facts of your case and zealously represent your interests to achieve the best possible results. Call us today at 888-749-0034 or visit us online at We will be there when you call.

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