Have you Been Charged with Involuntary Manslaughter in Georgia?
Manslaughter, murder, homicide, first degree, second degree are all terms associated with the death of another. However, many people do not know the difference between each of the different crimes. That is why it is important to hire a Lawyer who is familiar with the intricacies between each of the various crimes and knows how to defend you best. Call Lawson and Berry and their team of Manslaughter Attorneys today and let their decades of experience work for you!
Homicide crimes (i.e. the killing of another) can be evaluated if you look at them as a recipe and separate out the ingredients. All criminal homicides have a base ingredient of “the unlawful killing of a human being.” If you add malice to the equation, then the crime is considered murder. Factors such as premeditation and deliberation will further aggravate the charges. For example, a killing without malice is manslaughter. Manslaughter is broken down into two different categories: voluntary and involuntary.
Georgia Law O.C.G.A. §16-5-3
A person commits the offense of involuntary manslaughter in the commission of an unlawful act when he causes the death of another human being without any intention to do so:
- By the commission of an unlawful act other than a felony; or
- By the commission of a lawful act in an unlawful manner likely to cause death or great bodily harm
In Georgia, felonies include murder, rape, robbery, armed robbery, and kidnapping.
Georgia Case Law on Involuntary Manslaughter
A man was convicted of involuntary manslaughter after accidentally strangling his girlfriend. Lemon v. State, 293 Ga. App. 488, (2008). The suspect, Lemon, and his girlfriend, Wooten, had been arguing on the date of the incident. During their argument, Wotten attacked Lemon and started to scratch his face. As a “defense mechanism,” Lemon put Wooten in a chokehold by wrapping his arm around her neck. After one or two minutes, Wooten cried out “you're killing me” and went limp. Lemon released her, but she was unresponsive. The autopsy confirmed that the cause of death was neck hemorrhaging and that she was strangled to death. The jury found that Lemon unintentionally caused Wooten's death while committing simple battery and he, therefore, was guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
What Must be Proven to be Convicted of Involuntary Manslaughter in Georgia?
To be found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, the State must demonstrate that the suspect is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Your Attorney's job is to produce gaps in the Prosecutor's defense and therefore create doubt in the mind of the jury that you committed the crime.
Penalty for Involuntary Manslaughter Conviction in Georgia
A person who is convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the commission of an unlawful act other than a felony will be punished by a prison term for no less than one year and nor more than ten years.
A person who is found guilty of involuntary manslaughter by the commission of a lawful act but in an unlawful manner that was likely to cause death or great bodily harm will be charged with a misdemeanor. The consequences could include jail time, a fine, or both depending on the circumstances. The judge has the discretion to sentence how he sees fit depending on the specific details of each case.
In addition to criminal penalties, the accused may also face penalties in the form of a civil lawsuit from the victim for monetary damages. You do not have to be convicted in a criminal suit in order to face civil liability.
Involuntary Manslaughter Defenses in Georgia
It was an accident: Sometimes accidents happen even without negligence or recklessness. This defense would involve your Attorney proving that you did not act irresponsibly or that you did not know death could result from your actions.
Insufficient Evidence: The Prosecution must show a link between your action and the unintended killing. However, if they fail to form a link, then you cannot be convicted of involuntary manslaughter.
Innocence: If the wrong person was apprehended or you have an alibi, that information is vital to your case. Any evidence that you were not the party at fault needs to be presented to an Attorney immediately.
The victim did not die: If the victim did not die, then you cannot be guilty of involuntary manslaughter. However, you may still be guilty or charged with another crime such as assault or battery.
What are Not Defenses in Georgia
Lack of Intent: In Georgia, involuntary manslaughter does not require that there be intent. Intent or malice is not an element of the crime. Therefore, it does not matter.
Self Defense: Self-defense is a lawful act, but it can be performed in an unlawful manner if the jury concludes that more force was used than what was needed. Bangs v. State, 198 Ga. App. 404.
I wasn't doing anything illegal: The activity that you were participating could have been a legal activity, but if you were doing it in an unlawful manner, then you can be guilty of involuntary manslaughter. An example is if John were a doctor treating a patient for breathing problems. During surgery, John fails to properly ensure that a tube was placed properly and she dies. Even though John did not intend to kill her, he caused her death by acting in a negligent manner and has committed involuntary manslaughter.
To schedule a free consultation with one of our Georgia Involuntary Manslaughter Lawyers, contact our office today. Formulating a defense on your own can be overwhelming and seemingly impossible. Our Attorneys are highly knowledgeable and will assist you in formulating the best possible defense for your case. We will walk you through every step of the process, and we are dedicated to being accessible to you- days, nights, weekends, and holidays while working hard on your behalf. Your Attorney will make sure you understand all of your options and advise you on the best approach to take for your case based on their many years of experience. Don't wait to contact one of our Lawyers. Your future is at stake so don't sit around waiting for your case to resolve itself.