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Massachusetts Involuntary Manslaughter and Motor Vehicle Homicide Laws

Manslaughter is the killing of one human being by another that is not premeditated. In Massachusetts, involuntary manslaughter occurs when someone unintentionally causes the death of another person, when the defendant was engaging in some type of reckless conduct or while committing a serious battery upon another person.

Motor Vehicle Homicide

Motor vehicle homicide is the criminal offense that punishes those that, due to their intoxication, operate a vehicle negligently and recklessly, causing the death of another person. Motor vehicle homicide charges can be either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on if the driver was impaired by alcohol or drugs, and the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident.

For any motor vehicle homicide conviction in Massachusetts, you'll face a 15 year license loss. And it could be lifetime license suspension (revocation) if you have a prior OUI conviction on your driving record.

The following table highlights the main provisions of Massachusetts' involuntary manslaughter and motor vehicle homicide laws. See also, Involuntary Manslaughter Defenses and Involuntary Manslaughter Penalties and Sentences.

 

Code Sections

Involuntary Manslaughter: MGL Chapter 265, Section 13

Motor Vehicle Homicide: MGL Chapter 90, Section 24G

Involuntary Manslaughter

1) An unlawful killing that was unintentionally caused as the result of the defendants' wanton or reckless conduct;

or

2) An unlawful killing that resulted during the commission of a dangerous battery by a defendant.

Motor Vehicle Homicide

Felony

1) Defendant was operating a motor vehicle;

2) On a “public way”, or where members of the general public have a right of access or are business “invitees";

3) Defendant was driving recklessly and while under the influence of alcohol or drugs;

and

4) Caused the death of another person.

Misdemeanor

1) Defendant was operating a motor vehicle;

2) On a “public way”, or where members of the general public have a right of access or are business “invitees";

3) Defendant was under the influence of alcohol, drugs or intoxicating substances;

OR:

4) Defendant was operating recklessly or negligently so as to endanger the lives and safety of the public;

and

5) Directly caused the death of another person.

Definition of "unintentionally" The defendant did intend to commit the act that ultimately caused the death of the victim, but the defendant did not intend to actually cause the death itself.
Definition of "wanton or reckless conduct" Conduct which creates a high degree of likelihood that substantial harm will result to another person. An example is Russian Roulette.
Penalties

Involuntary Manslaughter: Up to 20 years in state prison, fines and possible victim restitution.

Felony Motor Vehicle Homicide: 2 (two) 1/2-15 years in jail or state prison, fines, and 15 year license revocation.

Misdemeanor Motor Vehicle Homicide: 30 days-2 1/2 years in jail or prison, fines and 15 year license revocation.

 

If you do find yourself facing a involuntary manslaughter or motor vehicle homicide charge, you may wish to contact a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for assistance.

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