Involuntary Manslaughter – an unintentional killing can either warrant involuntary manslaughter or 2nd degree murder

dead body outline

o       Requires Either;
§        Ordinary negligence with a dangerous instrumentality
§        Te mens rea must have been greater than ordinary negligence
o       Two Types
§        Criminal Negligence – requires recklessness
§        Unlawful Act Manslaughter – similar to felony murder rule, but parallels with Misdemeanor Manslaughter Rule
o       Mens Rea – Wanton or Reckless Disregard
§        To constitute wanton or reckless conduct, as distinguished from mere negligence, grave danger to others must have been apparent and Δ must have chose to run the risk rather than alter his conduct so as to avoid the harm
o       Actus Reus - Killing

o       Commonwealth v. Carroll – Wife was asleep after an argument, at which time, the Δ shot his wife in the back of the head
§        It may be found by Δ’s words or conduct or from the attendant circumstances together with all reasonable inferences, and may be inferred from the intentional use of a deadly weapon on a vital part of another’s body
o       Girouard v. State – After a constant insulting relationship, the Δ killed his wife during an altercation with a knife
§        “We cannot in good conscience countenance holding that a verbal domestic dispute ending in the death of one spouse can result in a conviction of manslaughter.”
o       Maher v. People – Δ claimed that an acquaintance told him that his wife was having an affair – but there is no evidence that the Δ saw this personally
§        Court decides to remand the case with new jury instructions to determine whether the Δ has a sufficient provocation claim
o       Commonwealth v. Welansky – Bar fire that kills more than 400 people and the door to exit was locked shut
§        Wanton or reckless conduct may consist of intentional failure to take such care in disregard of probable harmful consequences to them or of their right to care
o       State v. Williams – Native American parents thought their child was sick, but did not take the child to the health department
§        The court held that the Δs were sufficiently put on notice concerning the symptoms of the baby’s illness and lack of improvement of the baby’s apparent condition requiring medical care
o       Commonwealth v. Malone – Δ Stole a revolver from his uncle’s house and cartridges from his father, and suggests to the decedent that they play Russian Poker
§        When getting from manslaughter to murder, there has to be gross recklessness
o       Regina v. Serne – Δ set a house on fire to collect on an insurance policy with fraudulent intent
§        “…any act known to be dangerous to life and likely in itself to cause death, done for the purpose of committing a felony which causes death, should be murder.”
o       People v. Phillips – The Δ made a false statement regarding his ability to cure the deceased child.  Although, the Δ believed that the proposed treatment would be successful
§        In order to have felony murder, the felony must be inherently dangerous to human life.
§        The killing can be accidental
o       People v. BurtonΔ killed a person in the course of committing an armed robbery.
§        This is a crime against property, therefore we can have murder under an inherently dangerous and independent felonious purpose
o       State v. Canola – Δ was robbing a jewelry store when a shootout occurred, death between the owner of the jewelry store and the co-felon
§        In order for there to be a felony murder, the killing must have been by the Δ or by an accomplice/confederate or by one acting in furtherance of the felonious undertaking


·        Causation (similar to torts) – have to decide whether the Δ’s act proximately caused the result
o       When a crime is defined without any regard to the result of Δ’s conduct (ex. attempt, conspiracy), then there is no need to face the issue of causation
o       Requirements:
§        Cause-in-fact: result would not have occurred without a “but for” test
§        Proximate Cause: questions is whether the difference in the way death was intended or anticipated and the way in which it actually occurred breaks the chain of proximate causation
·        Chain is only broken when there is a superseding factor
o       Rules of Causation:
§        Preexisting Condition – the Δ must take the ¶ as he finds him
§        Intervening Acts – generally will shield Δ from liability if the act is a mere coincidence or is outside the foreseeable sphere of risk created by Δ’s action
·        Act of Nature
·        Act of a Third Party

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