Involuntary manslaughter is the term used to describe the unintentional killing of another person. It is the least severe charge for the crime of homicide. According to Illinois Statute 720 ILCS 5/9-3, involuntary manslaughter and reckless homicide are defined together. Subsection (a) provides that:
“A person who unintentionally kills an individual without lawful justification commits involuntary manslaughter if his acts whether lawful or unlawful which cause the death are such as are likely to cause death or great bodily harm to some individual, and he performs them recklessly, except in cases in which the cause of the death consists of the driving of a motor vehicle or operating a snowmobile, all-terrain vehicle, or watercraft, in which case the person commits reckless homicide.”
Section 9-3.2 of this Statute also recognizes the crime of involuntary manslaughter and reckless homicide of an unborn child. Subsection (a) provides that:
“A person who unintentionally kills an unborn child without lawful justification commits involuntary manslaughter of an unborn child if his acts whether lawful or unlawful which cause the death are such as are likely to cause death or great bodily harm to some individual, and he performs them recklessly, except in cases in which the cause of death consists of the driving of a motor vehicle, in which case the person commits reckless homicide of an unborn child.”
The intent element to prove this crime is recklessness. To be found reckless under Illinois law, the State must prove that the defendant acted with conscious disregard of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that a reasonable person in a similar situation would not have done. Basically, you are reckless when you act in a way that is clearly dangerous and likely to result in a certain outcome, but you do it anyway even when you know better.
Both involuntary manslaughter and reckless homicide (whether of an unborn child or not) are considered Class 3 felonies. There are a total of 14 subsections in this statute that relate to variations on sentencing for reckless homicide depending on the circumstances, all of which make the crime a Class 2 felony. Further variation is the involuntary manslaughter of a family or household member also constitutes a Class 2 felony.
Given the unintentional nature of these offenses, the punishment is less severe than other homicide convictions. However, the terms of imprisonment can be very harsh if certain aggravating factors exist. The punishment demonstrates the balancing act the law gives for punishing crime and recognizing that bad things happen even when we don’t mean for them to.
There are several defenses to the above crimes. These include self-defense, defense of others, defense of home from unlawful or violent entry, accident, compulsion, insanity, and infancy. Further, the crime of involuntary manslaughter of an unborn child does not apply to lawfully performed abortion procedure.
The loss of life is serious no matter the circumstances, so too is being accused of such a crime. Let a qualified Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney assure you the greatest protection under the law.