New York Penal Law § 125.20: Manslaughter in the first 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. The crime of manslaughter is distinguishable from murder in that manslaughter is defined as causing someone's death without the intent to do so while murder (link to: http://criminaldefense.1800nynylaw.com/new-york-murder-lawyer.html) requires intent. Manslaughter cases involve recklessness, negligence, or heat of passion. Under New York Penal Law § 125.20 you could be prosecuted for manslaughter in the first degree if:

  1. With intent to cause serious physical injury to another person you do in fact cause the death of that person,

  2. With intent to cause the death of another person you cause the death of such person or a third party while acting under the influence of extreme emotional disturbance,

  3. You perform an abortion on a woman who is more than 24 weeks pregnant and the woman dies, or

  4. You engage in an activity that puts a child who is less than 11 years old at substantial risk of serious physical injury and as a result the child dies.

Example

Defendant Anthony Oddone and his girlfriend were in a bar dancing on a table. The bouncer, Andrew Reister, asked Oddone to get off of the table. When Oddone refused to get off the table and Reister pushed him off, a fight between the two ensued. Oddone put Reister into a headlock. Reister fell to the ground and appeared to have lost consciousness. Reister was later declared brain dead and passed away. Oddone was convicted of manslaughter in the first degree. People v. Oddone, 2013 NY Slip Op 8291 (N.Y., 2013)

Related Offenses
  1. Criminally negligent homicide: New York Penal Law § 125.10
  2. Manslaughter in the second degree: New York Penal Law § 125.15
Defenses

If you are charged with manslaughter in the first degree based on having the intent to cause the victim a serious physical injury, if the prosecutor is unable to show that your intent was to cause an injury that was so serious that there was substantial risk of death, protracted disfigurement or protracted loss of a bodily organ, then you would not be convicted of the charge. Thus, a valid defense would be to show that you did not intend to cause the victim a serious physical injury. Another defense would be to show that you did not intend to hurt the victim at all, but that the incident that led to the victim's death was an accident.

Sentence

Because manslaughter in the first degree is a class B felony, if you are convicted you could be sentenced to up to 25 years in state prison and be ordered to pay a substantial fine.

New York Penal Law § 125.20: Manslaughter in the first degree

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

  1. With intent to cause serious physical injury to another person, he causes the death of such person or of a third person; or

  2. With intent to cause the death of another person, he causes the death of such person or of a third person under circumstances which do not constitute murder because he acts under the influence of extreme emotional disturbance, as defined in paragraph (a) of subdivision one of § 125.25. The fact that homicide was committed under the influence of extreme emotional disturbance constitutes a mitigating circumstance reducing murder to manslaughter in the first degree and need not be proved in any prosecution initiated under this subdivision; or

  3. He commits upon a female pregnant for more than twenty-four weeks an abortional act which causes her death, unless such abortional act is justifiable pursuant to subdivision three of § 125.05; or

  4. Being eighteen years old or more and with intent to cause physical injury to a person less than eleven years old, the defendant recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of serious physical injury to such person and thereby causes the death of such person.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you or a loved one have been charged with manslaughter, 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 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) 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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