The unexpected death of an individual usually raises eyebrows. In many of these instances, people who are close to the deceased individual, as well as the police, often look to place blame on someone else. This can cause Pennsylvania residents to be charged with serious criminal offenses.
Amongst those offenses is involuntary manslaughter. Under Pennsylvania law, this crime is committed when death results from recklessly or grossly negligently carrying out either a lawful or unlawful duty. Those who are convicted of this offense can face penalties that are consistent with first-degree misdemeanors, which can include a significant period of incarceration. If the individual who died in the incident was 12 years old or younger and in the care of the reckless or grossly negligent individual, then the offense is considered a second-degree felony, which, of course, carries even harsher penalties.
With so much at stake, those who are accused of this offense need to make sure they have a strong criminal defense team on their side. By doing so, an accused individual can try to poke holes in some of the elements of this offense. For example, the evidence at hand may not suggest that the act in question was reckless or grossly negligent. A determination as to this issue will likely depend on the facts in play and how they are presented during trial.
Those who don't act to protect their legal rights and build a strong criminal defense leave themselves susceptible to being taken advantage of by overzealous prosecutors who want nothing more than to put another criminal behind bars. By working with a defense attorney, though, individuals can put together a legal strategy that seeks to reduce or eliminate the risk they face.