Involuntary Manslaughter in Florida

The loss of life is a serious topic. It’s one of the worst situations you can find yourself in, but sometimes it does happen. Even if you’re not in this highly complex situation, it can pay to know the laws surrounding the loss of life. This is especially true if you work in a high-risk environment, such as factory or refinery work. Legally speaking, homicide is the killing of a person. However, if a homicide doesn’t match the criteria for a murder, Florida allows prosecutors to pursue an involuntary manslaughter charge instead.

There are two different kinds of manslaughter. These are voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary manslaughter refers to acts committed in the heat of the moment. These are acts of momentary passion or anger that result in the loss of life without premeditation. These are intentional acts. Involuntary manslaughter doesn’t need the intent to act. If an act is committed that results in the loss of life, this can count as involuntary manslaughter even if someone didn’t mean to perform the act.

Culpable Negligence in Florida

In order to demonstrate involuntary manslaughter prosecution has to show culpable negligence. The State of Florida defines culpable negligence as showing a reckless disregard for human life. If the defendant displayed recklessness or a flippant attitude toward safety while handling a firearm or doing other dangerous activities, this could lead to involuntary manslaughter charges. An “I don’t care” attitude where caution is warranted can prove this culpable negligence. It is important to ask if a reasonable person could expect these acts to lead to death.

Florida’s state laws can also allow for an involuntary manslaughter charge for excessive use of force. The facts of the case that resulted in the victim’s death will help determine if the defendant acted reasonably. For example, it would be unreasonable to respond with lethal force to a threat that does not put the defendant at risk of dying. If the use of force that led to a person’s death was unreasonable, the prosecution could pursue involuntary manslaughter.


Florida Statutes Section 782.02-782.36 set the penalties up to 15 years of prison. After this, up to 15 years of probation can follow with up to $10,000 in fines. Aggravated manslaughter, like the manslaughter of an elder or a child, elevates the offense to a first-degree felony. This brings the maximum sentence up to 30 years in prison. A defendant’s criminal history is also brought into consideration. Repeat offenders, career criminals, and other complicating factors will also increase sentences.

Defense Options

If it was justifiable to use deadly force to defend against a felony – Either committed against a person or property – There may be a defense against this charge. Accidental homicides also occur. In this case, it must be proven that a defendant acted without culpable negligence. Of course, state laws are always changing. New legislation and rulings can potentially annul these defenses. Even setting this aside, involuntary manslaughter is a complex and serious charge. If you or a loved one have been accused of manslaughter, it is vital that you seek legal representation. Don’t wait. Your rights are important. As soon as you are charged with a crime, seek immediate legal representation.