Understanding Manslaughter in the Second Degree in New York

Most people are familiar with the phrases: ‘Homicide’ which is the killing of another human being, and ‘Murder’ which is a type of unjustified homicide because it was done with intent/malice.

Another type of homicide as defined by New York Law is ‘Manslaughter’ which is a homicide that occurs because a person’s reckless behavior led to death or they caused a serious physical injury that led to death.

New York Penal Law § 125.15 sets forth Manslaughter in the Second Degree. Manslaughter in the second degree occurs when a person’s reckless actions or inaction causes the death of another human being. This type of homicide crime may not be as serious as murder, but it has harsh penalties.

3 Ways Manslaughter in the Second Degree Can Occur

Manslaughter in the second degree can occur three ways:

  1. A person can be charged with this crime when they recklessly cause the death of an individual;
  2. If the person commits an unjustified abortion and unjustified abortion leads to the woman’s death.
  3. If a person assists in a suicide.

New York’s Definition of “Reckless” in Manslaughter Cases

New York’s Penal Code defines “reckless” behavior to be a conscious awareness of the substantial and unjustifiable risk that a person’s actions will cause and having a total disregard for human life. This means that a person knew or should have known their actions were so dangerous that they could kill someone, but they did it anyway. Also, a person’s reckless behavior must be considered a gross deviation from a reasonable person’s conduct. “Gross deviation” means that a person’s actions were so bad that it went beyond reasonable behavior.

Prison is the Penalty for a Conviction

As a Class C felony, anyone convicted of Manslaughter in the Second Degree may be sentenced to a minimum of three years and up to a maximum of 15 years in prison. The judge also may order the individual to pay a $5,000 fine.

Defending Manslaughter in the Second Degree Cases

There are many defenses available to individuals in New York accused of manslaughter in the second degree. Some common defenses include:

  1. Justification or Self Defense;
  2. Mental Defect or Disease; and
  3. Infancy.

However, the defense of a case where someone is accused of Manslaughter in the Second Degree will depend on a variety of factors and the facts of the specific case. Due to the seriousness of these kinds of charges and the severity of the penalties following a conviction, it is very important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.

Stephen J. Riebling, Jr. and Marcia Payton are criminal defense attorneys at Riebling & Payton, PLLC, located in Westchester County, NY. They have experience defending clients charged with manslaughter and murder from arrest through to jury trial throughout Westchester and NYC. To learn more about them, the firm and their approach please visit Riebling & Payton, PLLC at www.RieblingPaytonLaw.com.

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