Get the Help You Need from a Tough and Aggressive Nebraska Involuntary Manslaughter Attorney
As a result, you might face involuntary manslaughter charges simply because you were in an accident.
Involuntary manslaughter by motor vehicle is a felony in Nebraska. These charges could send you to jail for a long time.
Nebraska criminal defense attorney Thomas M. Petersen and his team with the Petersen Law Offices are tough, experienced, and skilled fighters. They will fight for you.
With Tom Petersen in your corner, you have the best chance to reduce the impact these charges could have on your life.
Nebraska’s Involuntary Manslaughter Law
Nebraska law recognizes both voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. Voluntary manslaughter is the unlawful killing of another without malice.
In other words, if Bob kills Joe during a sudden quarrel, but Bob did not have the intent to kill Joe before the argument started—Bob could be charged with voluntary manslaughter.
A sudden quarrel is also known as sudden provocation. Because voluntary manslaughter often results from sudden provocation, many people refer to it as killing in the heat of passion.
Involuntary manslaughter is an unlawful and unintentional killing of another during the commission of an unlawful act, without provocation. Involuntary manslaughter by vehicle is the unlawful killing of another during the operation of a motor vehicle.
Driving drunk or drugged and killing another in a crash is involuntary manslaughter. In this scenario, driving under the influence is an unlawful act. The unintentional killing occurs as a result of the car crash.
What Is an Unlawful Killing?
Nebraska’s manslaughter law refers to an unlawful killing. An unlawful killing means that one person killed another without having any legal justification. Not every killing of another is a crime.
For example, shooting someone in self-defense is justified under the right circumstances. Therefore, the law would excuse the killing if the circumstances justified the use of deadly force.
What Is the Difference Between Manslaughter and Murder?
Manslaughter and murder are closely related. The difference between the two crimes lies in the state of mind of the person who committed the act. A person commits murder when killing another intentionally and with prior reflection.
In fact, it could be said that the difference between murder and voluntary manslaughter is whether or not there was a sufficient “cooling off” period prior to the killing.
In other words, in our above example where Bob kills Joe due to sudden provocation, we said that Bob would likely be charged with voluntary manslaughter. But, suppose that after the argument Joe walked away from the scene.
Then, Bob goes into his car and thinks about the fight for 30 minutes before tracking Joe down and killing him. In this scenario, an argument could be made that Bob had sufficient time to cool off after the argument.
Therefore, his act of tracking Joe down and killing him is now considered murder, not voluntary manslaughter. A jury typically decides whether a person is guilty of murder or manslaughter.
What Is the Difference Between Involuntary Manslaughter by Motor Vehicle and Motor Vehicle Homicide?
Motor vehicle homicide is the unintentional killing of another while driving a motor vehicle. However, Nebraska law requires the prosecution to prove that the driver charged with motor vehicle homicide violated either a state traffic law, city ordinance, or town by-law to be found guilty.
When someone dies in a car wreck caused by an unlawful act (like drinking and driving), the prosecutor’s office has the authority to charge the accused with involuntary manslaughter or motor vehicle homicide. The difference between the two charges lies in the mind of the accused.
A simple mistake made while driving a car that leads to a deadly crash is not manslaughter by motor vehicle. Rather, the charge should be motor vehicle homicide according to Nebraska’s highest court. For example, running a red light and causing a deadly crash can be charged as motor vehicle homicide.
Even though running a red light is an unlawful act, it does not rise to the level of the guilty mind required for a manslaughter conviction. The Nebraska Supreme Court, relying on decisions from the highest courts in other states, said that mere negligence is not enough to convict a person of manslaughter.
However, the addition of a few facts can change the outcome of the case. If the driver ran a red light because they were racing or driving so fast they couldn’t stop, then the driver could face manslaughter charges.
Courts look at whether the person’s behavior was reckless and showed the person was indifferent to the lives and safety of others. The best way to describe that behavior is to call it reckless or gross negligence.
Motor vehicle homicide is not a lesser-included offense of involuntary manslaughter. That means you can be tried and convicted of the two crimes. However, you might suffer a double penalty.
An experienced and knowledgeable Nebraska defense attorney like Tom Petersen can explain the crimes to you in greater detail. He will also work closely with you to find the best defense possible for your case.
What is the Typical Involuntary Manslaughter Sentence in Nebraska?
Manslaughter and motor vehicle homicide while under the influence are Class IIA felonies in Nebraska. That means you could serve up to 20 years in prison for a conviction.
However, you could spend between one and 50 years in prison if you have a prior DUI conviction and are convicted for motor vehicle homicide while under the influence.
Sentencing in Nebraska courts depends on the individual appearing before the court. Each person has a story that is relevant to sentencing. The story includes how the crash occurred, as well as the driver’s personal history such as family life, employment, and educational history.
Also, judges look closely at a person’s prior criminal history. The judge will also consider victim impact statements given to the court by the victim’s family at sentencing.
As you can see, sentencing involves a lot of variables. A skilled defense attorney like Tom Petersen knows how to emphasize your best qualities to the judge at sentencing.
Having a strong advocate argue at a sentencing hearing will give you the best chance to minimize the impact of such a conviction.
What Can Tom Petersen Do For You?
You need a tough and experienced defense lawyer to help you if you have charges of involuntary manslaughter by motor vehicle.
Tom Petersen is a no-nonsense attorney who knows how to fight for his clients.
He won’t judge you. He won’t lecture you—he will defend you. If you have involuntary manslaughter charges in Nebraska, that’s exactly who you need to have the best chance of a favorable outcome.
Call Tom Petersen at 402-235-4962 to get help now!