Involuntary Manslaughter & Vehicular Homicide Under Maryland Law
Involuntary manslaughter is a violent crime that involves the death of a person. Vehicular homicide is a type of involuntary manslaughter crime that involves certain vehicles. In either case, the offender causes the death of another person without intending to do so. To understand what this means, the following sections will explore Maryland laws and penalties for involuntary manslaughter generally, and vehicular homicide specifically.
Involuntary Manslaughter Laws & Penalties
The Maryland Criminal Code does not include a definition for involuntary manslaughter. Instead, Maryland adheres to a common law definition of this crime, created over years of case precedence. Under the common law, a person commits involuntary manslaughter if they:
- Unintentionally cause the death of another person;
- While acting in a negligent or unlawful way.
Maryland Code, Criminal Law Section 2-207 makes involuntary manslaughter punishable as a felony offense. If convicted for this particular felony, an offender can face:
- Imprisonment in a local jail for a maximum of two years and up to $500 in criminal fines; or
- Imprisonment in the state correctional system for a maximum of 10 years.
Vehicular Homicide Laws & Penalties
Most often referred to by the public as vehicular homicide, Maryland has separate laws for involuntary manslaughter involving driving or controlling a vehicle or vessel. Under this section of the law a vehicle includes a:
- Motor vehicle;
- Engine; or
Moreover, Maryland law provides for two types of vehicular manslaughter crimes that are differentiated by whether the offense involved grossly or criminally negligent conduct.
- Grossly Negligent
Maryland Code, Criminal Law Section 2-209 establishes the laws and penalties concerning grossly negligent manslaughter by vehicle. Under this section, it is unlawful to cause the death of another person by operating a vehicle in a grossly negligent manner.
Under Section 2-209, any person who commits grossly negligent manslaughter by vehicle is guilty of a felony. If convicted for this particular felony, an offender can face imprisonment for a maximum of 10 years and up to $5,000 in criminal fines.
- Criminally Negligent
Maryland Code, Criminal Law Section 2-210 provides the laws and penalties governing criminally negligent manslaughter by vehicle. Under this section, it is unlawful to cause the death of another person by operating a vehicle in a criminally negligent fashion.
For the purposes of Section 2-210, the term criminal negligence means that:
- The offender should have been aware, but failed to perceive, that their actions constituted a serious risk of death; and
- A reasonable person would have perceived this risk and avoided the actions in question.
Under Section 2-210, any person who commits criminally negligent manslaughter by vehcile is guilty of a misdemeanor. If convicted for this particular misdemeanor, an offender can face imprisonment for a maximum of three years and up to $5,000 in criminal fines.
Let Us Help You Today
If you have legal questions about criminal charges for involuntary manslaughter, manslaughter by vehicle or vehicular homicide in Maryland, it can be extremely productive to consult with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. The Bel Air violent crimes attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered, have more than 60 years of combined legal experience in criminal and family law, including involuntary manslaughter. If you need legal help, contact us today for an initial consultation.