Involuntary Manslaughter

Iowa Involuntary Manslaughter Laws

Involuntary Manslaughter is the charge often filed by the prosecution when they are unable to prove an intent on the part of the defendant to cause harm to the victim. 

Unintentional Harm

In these cases, there was no intent to harm the victim but the person’s actions were done in a way that the State believes they should be held criminally responsible for the individual’s death.  The State can allege either that the individual committed a “public offense” resulting in death or otherwise engaged in conduct “likely to cause death.”

Public Offense

A “public offense” is essentially any traffic or criminal offense that is punishable by a fine or jail time.  Careless driving, assault, speeding, failure to maintain control, and other such offenses are all considered “public offenses.”  Obviously it is concerning that ANY public offense may form the basis of an Involuntary Manslaughter charge. 

Recklessness, Willful & Wanton Disregard

However, there is an additional requirement that the person’s conduct must be reckless.  In otherwords, their conduct must demonstrate a willful and wanton disregard for the safety of others.  It is not enough for the defendant merely to have committed a “public offense” that offense must have been committed in a reckless manner in order from criminal liability to attach.

Class D Felony

Involuntary Manslaughter, by public offense, is a Class D felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $7,500.  If convicted the defendant is also responsible for $150,000 in restitution to the estate of the victim.  Probation is an option.

Aggravated Misdemeanor

Involuntary Manslaughter, by conduct likely to cause death, is an Aggravated Misdemeanor punishable by up to 2 years in prison and a fine of up to $6,250.00.  Probation is an option and the statutory $150,000 restitution to the victim’s estate is not applicable although restitution may be ordered.

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