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NY Penal Law § 125.15: Manslaughter in the second degree

If your actions result in the death of another person, even if that was not your intention you could be charged with a serious criminal offense. Under New York law there are different terms used to describe criminal offenses related to causing the death of another person. Murder is defined as killing someone with the intent to do so, while manslaughter is defined as causing someone's death without the intent to do so. Manslaughter cases involve recklessness, negligence, or heat of passion. Under New York Penal Law § 125.15 you could be prosecuted for manslaughter in the second degree if:

  1. You recklessly cause the death of another person,
  2. You perform an abortion on a woman and the woman dies, or
  3. You intentionally help someone commit suicide.

According to New York Penal Law § 15.05(3), acting "recklessly" as used in the manslaughter in the second degree statute is defined as being aware that your actions present a substantial risk that someone could be killed and disregarding that risk.


Defendant Jose Maldonado stole a minivan. He then traveled at high speeds, ran through red lights, and broke other traffic laws in an effort to flee from police. Ultimately he hit and killed a pedestrian. Maldonado was initially convicted of murder in the second degree based on depraved indifference. However, his conviction was later reduced to manslaughter in the second degree. The court found that Maldonado did not have the requisite intent for a murder conviction. Finding that Maldonado's actions were not intentional but reckless, the court reduced his conviction to manslaughter in the second degree. People v. Maldonado, 2014 NY Slip Op 4878 (N.Y., 2014)

Related Offenses
  1. Criminally negligent homicide: New York Penal Law § 125.10
  2. Manslaughter in the first degree: New York Penal Law § 125.20

If you are charged with manslaughter in the second degree based on reckless behavior, then a defense to the charge would be that your actions were not reckless as defined by the statute. For example, if you can show that the death occurred as a result of an accident where no recklessness was involved, then you may have a valid defense to a manslaughter in the second charge.


Because manslaughter in the second degree is a class C felony, if you are convicted you could be sentenced to up to 15 years in state prison and be ordered to pay a substantial fine.

New York Penal Law § 125.15: Manslaughter in the second degree

A person is guilty of manslaughter in the second degree when:

  1. He recklessly causes the death of another person; or
  2. He commits upon a female an abortional act which causes her death, unless such abortional act is justifiable pursuant to subdivision three of § 125.05; or
  3. He intentionally causes or aids another person to commit suicide.
Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you or a loved one have been charged with manslaughter in the second degree it is critical to have experienced representation. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with vehicular manslaughter, manslaughter, conspiracy, murder and other serious crimes. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve those accused of crimes in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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