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South Dakota Involuntary Manslaughter Law

In South Dakota, homicide is defined as the unlawful killing of one human being (including an unborn child) by another. Homicide in South Dakota can be classified as murder, manslaughter, excusable homicide, justifiable homicide, or vehicular homicide. The crime of manslaughter is then subcategorized into voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter. This article provides a brief overview of South Dakota's involuntary manslaughter law.

Involuntary manslaughter, referred to as "manslaughter in the second degree" in South Dakota, criminalizes unintentional killings that result from recklessness. The table below outlines South Dakota's second degree manslaughter law.

Code Section

South Dakota Code section 22-16-15: Manslaughter in the Second Degree

What's Prohibited?

Recklessly killing a human being (including an unborn child) by an act that doesn't constitute murder, manslaughter in the first degree, excusable homicide, or justifiable homicide.
Lesser Included Offenses Second degree manslaughter is a lesser included offense of first degree murder, second degree murder, and first degree manslaughter.


Manslaughter in the second degree is a Class 4 felony that is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000.

Example of Involuntary Manslaughter

A legal activity can result in an involuntary manslaughter charge if the act was carried out recklessly and resulted in another person's death. For example, if the operator of a dangerous rollercoaster recklessly fails to ensure that his passengers are securely strapped in and someone dies as a result, the operator may be charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Involuntary Manslaughter vs. Vehicular Homicide

In South Dakota, the crime of vehicular homicide occurs when any person under the influence of alcohol or drugs operates or drives a vehicle in a negligent manner and accidentally causes the death of another person. The key differences between involuntary manslaughter and vehicular homicide are the elements of recklessness and negligence.

Involuntary manslaughter is based on a reckless act (an act where the person knew or should have known that the action would likely cause harm), while vehicular homicide is based on a negligent act (when a person acts in violation of a duty, and that breach of duty causes harm to someone else).

Additional Resources

State laws change frequently. For case specific information regarding South Dakota's involuntary manslaughter law contact a local criminal defense lawyer.

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