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Penalties for involuntary manslaughter in New York

Crimes that would result in an involuntary manslaughter charge in many states will lead to a charge of manslaughter in the second degree in New York. A charge of manslaughter in the second degree is generally filed against individuals who have acted recklessly and caused the death of another. However, this charge may also be brought against those who take part in assisted suicides. The charge may be upgraded to aggravated manslaughter when the victim is a police or peace officer.

Both manslaughter in the second degree and aggravated manslaughter in the second degree are class C felonies in New York. A manslaughter in the second degree conviction will lead to a prison sentence of between three years and 15 years. The custodial sentence for aggravated manslaughter in the second degree is between seven and 20 years. These sentences give judges some leeway when deciding on a fair punishment, and they will generally make their decision based on aggravating and mitigating factors.

A manslaughter charge will generally be filed after a reckless act causes the death of a bystander. However, the degree of recklessness may greatly influence the sentence handed down. Defendants who accept responsibility for their actions and display remorse may be treated more leniently, but those who demonstrate no contrition or who acted particularly recklessly could receive far harsher treatment.

Criminal defense attorneys may seek to reach an agreement with prosecutors when their clients are charged with violent crimes like manslaughter or homicide. The possible sentences range from relatively light to quite severe, and defense attorneys may wish to avoid the uncertainties of a trial. Prosecutors are sometimes eager to accept plea agreements even when their case is a strong one. They too understand the inherent unpredictability of courtrooms, and they are often under great pressure to deliver results quickly.

Source: Findlaw, "New York Involuntary Manslaughter Laws", accessed on Aug. 4, 2015

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