When an individual’s recklessness in California causes someone’s death, but it wasn’t on purpose, that person usually gets a lighter sentence. This reasoning comes from the conclusion that serial killers and reckless drivers differ in their motives. While many states commonly treat involuntary manslaughter as a felony, it still involves jail time along with fines and probation.
The federal level sets sentencing for involuntary manslaughter at 10 to 16 months in prison. The sentencing for deaths caused by reckless driving may be higher depending on the judge and the laws. Minimum penalties could increase under certain conditions, such as the defendant having a prior criminal record or facing other current charges, or he or she committed the crime under the influence. Maritime law raises minimum penalties to eight years in prison plus fines.
Some states use the federal courts to guide their law, but the guidelines still vary. They commonly offer judges many possible sentences and let them choose based on the circumstances.
Determining a sentence involves looking at aggravating and mitigating factors. Aggravating factors are behaviors that raise the seriousness of the crime and the penalties. Judges commonly consider the vulnerability of the victim, such as a person with a disability or mental illness. Other aggravating factors may include committing crimes under a leadership role, killing members of law enforcement or military members, and prior convictions.
Mitigating factors often lower the severity of the crime. Some of these include no previous criminal history, the role played in the crime, mental illness, the demonstration of genuine remorse and the willingness to take responsibility. However, some state laws require minimum sentencing for certain violations.
While involuntary manslaughter tends to exact fewer penalties, the accused still faces possible jail time and fines. A person facing these charges should consider contacting a criminal defense attorney for help with presenting a defense to possibly lower his or her charges.