I guess the question becomes, if you find yourself charged with involuntary manslaughter in Los Angeles, California, what should you do? Obviously, you want to hire an attorney who has dealt with those cases before; who is local to the court where your case is pending; and who can really help you.
In dealing with an involuntary manslaughter case, described under California Penal Code Section 192(b), it really speaks about evaluating the case and what the facts are and whether or not the prosecutors have the evidence to prove that you're guilty of the charged crime.
Involuntary manslaughter usually has to do with some sort of criminal negligence action that results in the death of another. We see this a lot on the road, for example, somebody runs a red light and kills another person, is speeding really fast down the highway and ends up getting involved in some sort of horrible accident where a death occurs.
There are defenses to involuntary manslaughter and they usually center around what we call in criminal defense — and even civil law — causation. Causation has to do with who caused the death.
In other words, if the police or prosecutors are claiming you did something negligent and a death occurred and you can respond back by saying, either there was some other intervening force — someone else, maybe a third-party for example, cut me off which caused me to have to go into the other lane which caused the death — or the person who ended up passing away maybe was making an illegal U-turn — for example, was on drugs and is responsible for their own death.
Again, we have to look at the facts of a particular case and of course, the circumstances surrounding that case. And if it involves a vehicle, a lot of times we will get an expert involved — somebody who understands accident reconstruction; who understands what causes accident and then we can really start to get down to the nitty-gritty of a defense.
If you don't really have a defense to the crime and you're guilty of the crime, then the next question is, how are we going to resolve it? Obviously, you want to protect your freedom, your rights and your reputation. You want to make sure that you can have a future job and not go to jail for a long period of time. A lot of people have families and things that they're worried about and concerned about.
What we do is, we sit down with the prosecutors and we give them your side of the story. We tell them about you. We tell them who you are, your job, your family, your life, and the reason that we're doing this obviously, is to try to mitigate things — try to show that whatever conduct you engage in is an aberration and is not going to occur again.
So, if you're charged with involuntary manslaughter, let's sit down and talk about it. Let's break everything down and come up with a game plan. Let's decide exactly how we're going to handle the case, what we're going to do, whether it's going to be putting together what I characterize as a mitigation package where we're sending the prosecutors all of the good things about you so that we can try to convince them of our position.
A lot of times unfortunately, the police do a one-sided investigation where they don't get your side of the story. They don't get the mitigating stuff. They don't get some of the issues that could inure to your benefit and that's what your defense attorney's job is — to point out the things that help you and make you look good so that the case can be resolved as quick as possible; you can be out of the criminal justice system as fast as possible; and so that your involuntary manslaughter case can be handled the right way so you achieve the right result.