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Ohio Involuntary Manslaughter Laws

In Ohio, involuntary manslaughter can happen when someone causes the death of another person or their unborn child as the result of committing or attempting to commit a misdemeanor or felony. Ohio also has separate charges for vehicular manslaughter, vehicular homicide, and aggravated vehicular manslaughter (see link below, in Related Resources).

Unlike a murder charge, involuntary manslaughter means that a person had no intention of killing another, but due to their actions while committing another crime, they caused the death of a human being. This type of crime is often referred to as "criminal negligence," since there was no intent to kill.

Involuntary manslaughter is charged as a third degree felony in Ohio, which is punishable by nine months to five years in prison. But if another person was killed (or a pregnancy was terminated) -- unintentionally -- in the commission or even attempt of a felony, then it is charged as a first-degree felony (up to 11 years in prison). 

Even if a person is charged with involuntary manslaughter in criminal court and is acquitted, the deceased’s family may file a wrongful death claim in civil court. It is not uncommon for someone acquitted of these in criminal court to be found liable for wrongful death in civil court, since it requires a lower burden of proof.

The following table highlights the main provisions of Ohio's involuntary manslaughter laws. See also Involuntary Manslaughter Definitions, Involuntary Manslaughter Penalties and Sentences, and Voluntary Manslaughter.

Code Sections Ohio Revised Statute 2903.04

"Criminally Negligent Homicide"

What is Prohibited?

Unintentionally killing another person or unborn fetus while committing or attempting to commit a felony or misdemeanor.


This offense is a felony of the first degree (Anywhere from three (3) to ten years in prison and at most $20,000 in fines) if it occurred during a felony, or a felony of the third degree (Anywhere from one (1) to five (5) years in prison and maximum $10,000 fine) if it occurred during a misdemeanor

Civil Case Possible wrongful death lawsuit and restitution to the victim's family.

If you do find yourself facing an involuntary manslaughter charge, you may wish to contact an Ohio criminal defense attorney for assistance.

Research the Law

Ohio Involuntary Manslaughter Law: Related Resources


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