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

Homicide is the killing of another human being. Most people are familiar with murder. This is a type of unjustified homicide because it was done with malice. Malice means that the person planned and actually took someone’s life. Another type of unjustified homicide is called manslaughter.

Manslaughter is the homicide that occurs because of a person’s reckless behavior or serious physical injury. Whether a person caused serious bodily injury that lead to the killing of a human being or they were just reckless will determine if the individual is charged with first or second degree manslaughter.

New York statute 125.15 outlines 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.

What is Manslaughter in the Second Degree in New York?

Manslaughter in the second degree can occur three ways. A person can be charged with this crime when they recklessly cause the death of an individual. The second way is if the person commits an unjustified abortion. This unjustified abortion leads to the woman’s death. An individual can also be charged with second-degree manslaughter when they assist in a suicide.

How New York Defines “Reckless” in Manslaughter in the Second Degree

The Section 15.05 of New York’s Penal Code defines what is “reckless” behavior. Reckless refers to being consciously aware of the substantial and unjustifiable risk their actions will cause and have 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. One example of this is speeding above the posted spending limit. A driver knew or should have known that they could kill someone if they drove over the limit, but did it anyway.

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 behavior. The state compares the person’s behavior to a reasonable person. This “reasonable person” doesn’t exist.

However, the state considers the reasonable person standard to be the “right thing” to do. Therefore, if a New Yorker would have driven the speed limit, this is considered the reasonable person standard. If the person accused of second degree manslaughter drove over the speed limit, their actions may rise to the level of gross deviation.

The Punishment for New York Manslaughter in the Second Degree is Prison Time

New York classifies second degree murder as a Class C felony. Any type of felony means that the person spends at least one year in state prison. However, since this crime is a Class C felony, a person may be sentenced to three to 15 years in prison. The judge also may order the individual to pay a $5,000 fine.

Types of Defenses Available for Manslaughter in the Second Degree

Many defenses are available to an individual in New York accused of manslaughter in the second degree. For example, self-defense is one type of defense. Self-defense claims that a person was defending themselves when the assailant, not victim, was killed. Mental defect or disease and infancy are other types of defenses. Infancy means that the person was younger than 16 years old when the crime was committed.

Contact Us About Your Manslaughter in the Second Degree Charge

If you or a loved one is charged with manslaughter in the second degree, contact us immediately. There’s no time to waste in building a strong defense strategy. You or your loved one can fight this charge with our help. Contact us today.

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