NRS 200.070: Involuntary Manslaughter in Navada – What It Means, Punishments, and Common Defenses

juvenile crimes defense lawyer service

Recently in Henderson, there was a teenage boy who pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of his 10-year-old brother.

We know that this is an extreme example of what is considered involuntary manslaughter. This story, no matter how heartbreaking, may sound, is the definition of involuntary manslaughter.

In Nevada, Involuntary Manslaughter is defined in NRS200.070 as the unintentional killing of another in the commission of either:

  1. An unlawful act- For example driving without a license
  2. A neglectful act leaving your children unattended

The difference between Involuntary Manslaughter and 2nd Degree Murder (also an unintentional killing) is the degree of reckless behavior by the defendant.

For example, when handling a loaded gun and you accidentally fire the gun and shoot the person closest to you like in the story above.

You had no intent but by handling a gun, whether or not you knew it was loaded, is a neglectful act that could cause someone to be killed.

On the other hand, if you punch someone intentionally in a fight at a bar and they fall and hit their head and are killed you could be charged with 2nd-degree murder. It is an unintentional killing but fighting in a bar can lead to death by intentional reckless behavior.

How Does Nevada Define Involuntary Manslaughter

Involuntary Manslaughter occurs when the defendant unintentionally kills the victim while committing either

  1. An unlawful act
  2. A lawful but neglectful act

A few examples that may be prosecuted in Nevada for involuntary manslaughter are:

  • Killing someone with a loaded gun after handling it– this can include pointing a gun at someone and it goes off, Russian Roulette, and pulling the trigger of a gun assuming it was not loaded.
  • Hunting either in a non-hunting area or without a license-There are many famous stories of hunters shooting another hunter unexpectedly while hunting. For example, when a hunter shoots without looking upon hearing something and mistakenly hits an individual rather than their intended prey.
  • A parent uses illegal drugs and leaves them in an open area and the child ingests them and overdoses and dies.
  • If you were driving recklessly without a license you could be charged with involuntary manslaughter instead of vehicular manslaughter depending on the circumstances.

Involuntary Manslaughter is one of the crimes involving a killing with the lowest possible penalties because the defendant had no intent to cause or risk the victim’s death. The fatality only occurred because the defendant was careless and not reckless and that can make all the difference.

What Is the Sentence for Involuntary Manslaughter in Nevada

Since Involuntary Manslaughter is a Class D felony, the punishment is as follows:

  • 1-4 years in state prison and
  • up to a $5000 fine to be determined by the judge.

However, that is a much more lenient sentence than 2nd Degree Murder, also an unintentional killing but with more recklessness.

The sentence for 2nd Degree Murder is as follows:

  • Life in prison with the possibility of parole after 10 years
  • 25 years in prison with the possibility of parole after 10 years

As you can see the difference between a 2nd-degree murder conviction and an involuntary murder conviction is the punishment.

In many cases, a good defense team can get 2nd-degree murder charges reduced to involuntary manslaughter and the punishment is significantly less with a maximum of 4 years in prison instead of a possible life sentence.

Defenses Against Involuntary Manslaughter

A good defense can get charges reduced or even dismissed for involuntary manslaughter charges. The following are some common defenses that your legal counsel can use are:

Self Defense or Defense of Another

In Nevada, you are allowed to defend yourself or others even if involving death but two things must be met in order to claim self-defense:

  • The suspect reasonably believed that they or another was facing immediate death or severe harm and
  • No more force than reasonably necessary to defend themselves, this does include the death of the victim

The Act Was an Accident

In most involuntary manslaughter cases, they all seem like the accident defense would be prevalent since the defendant didn’t mean to kill the victim. The suspect must be legally blameless for the charges to be dropped using the accident defense. Also to be considered an accident the defendant must:

  • Not be breaking the law in any way
  • Or acting in a neglectful way

False Accusations

Sometimes defendants who have nothing to do with the crime end up being charged for a variety of reasons

  • The original police reports are sent to the DA and they just accept the initial report as fact and rush to judgment
  • An enemy of the accused has falsely accused the defendant for revenge or anger toward the defendant
  • The real perpetrator accuses another to deflect from themselves

Illegal Search and Seizure

The police acted overzealously and entered a business or residence to search it without obtaining the proper paperwork from a judge. If this happens the defense team can ask the judge to suppress any evidence obtained during that search since it was obtained illegally.

A good defense team will perform a thorough investigation and collect any evidence available to refute the prosecution’s case. Refuting the case could get the charges dismissed or reduced.

Related Offenses

In some cases, involuntary manslaughter charges can be accompanied by other related offenses or alternatively charged separately. Moreover, if the circumstances are severe enough, these extra charges could replace a plea of involuntary manslaughter.

  1. Attempted murder-trying to take someone’s life but failing to do so
  2. Capital Murder-When you intentionally kill someone with n aggravating factor such as killing someone while committing another crime. You can receive the death penalty if convicted of Capital Murder
  3. Vehicular Manslaughter-While driving your negligence causes another’s death
  4. Vehicular Homicide-This is a very specific charge when a person who has already committed 3 prior DUI convictions and kills another while committing another DUI can be convicted of this crime
  5. Feticide-Outside of a legal abortion a person who is guilty of this crime is guilty of killing an unborn child.
  6. Death by drugs-Selling or giving illegal drugs that causes someone’s death is considered murder if the person dies of those drugs

As you can see some of these offenses are very serious and can send a defendant to prison for life. If you have a good defense team they can in some cases get the charges reduced to involuntary manslaughter or dismissed based on an investigation.

Hire The Defenders

If you or someone close to you has been charged with involuntary manslaughter or any related offenses, it is important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who is familiar with Nevada law.

The Defenders have the experience and knowledge to build a strong defense on your behalf. Contact us today for a free consultation. Our knowledgeable attorneys will review your case, provide you with honest feedback and fight hard to get the best possible outcome for your case.

The attorneys at The Defenders are here to help protect your rights, freedom, and future. We understand how stressful this can be for you and your family, so we strive to provide the highest level of legal services. Give us a call today.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is involuntary manslaughter?

Involuntary manslaughter is a type of criminal homicide that occurs when a person unintentionally causes another’s death as the result of their negligent or reckless behavior.

What are the possible defenses to involuntary manslaughter?

The possible defenses to involuntary manslaughter vary depending on the individual circumstances of each case, but can include self-defense, accident defense, false accusation defense, illegal search and seizure defense, and more.

How can I be charged with Involuntary Manslaughter?

You can be charged with involuntary manslaughter if you unintentionally cause the death of another person by engaging in reckless or negligent behavior. Examples include driving under the influence, shooting a gun negligently, or providing someone with illegal drugs that lead to their death.

What happens if I am charged with involuntary manslaughter?

If you are charged with involuntary manslaughter you will face serious legal consequences. It is in your best interest to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the specific laws in Nevada. Your attorney can help you build a strong defense so that you have the

What is the penalty for Involuntary Manslaughter in Nevada?

In Nevada, the penalty for involuntary manslaughter is a felony and can include up to four years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. Additional charges may be added depending on the circumstances of each case, such as attempted murder or vehicular homicide, which could result in harsher penalties.

Practice Areas