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Definitions of reckless homicide

If a person in South Carolina is facing charges of reckless homicide, that means the person may have caused another person's death through behaving recklessly. Reckless homicide falls under the larger umbrella of involuntary manslaughter charges.

Specific parameters around reckless homicide differentiate it from negligent homicide, murder or genuine accidents. First, it is necessary to prove that a person's death was caused by the defendant as a direct result of the defendant's reckless actions. Next, it is necessary to establish the defendant's actions as reckless. This means the defendant must have known at the time that the action could contribute to someone's injury or death but went ahead with the action anyway. Examples might include dropping a heavy object from a building to the sidewalk below or drinking and driving.

A charge of negligent homicide would involve failing to exercise a reasonable amount of caution. An example of the difference is that a person who fires a gun in an area where people are likely to be hit might be committing reckless homicide. The gun owner who did not secure the guns, allowing the reckless person to pick one up and use it, might be guilty of negligent homicide. If there is a plan to kill someone ahead of time, the charge would be murder instead of reckless homicide.

Convictions for violent crimes can have serious consequences even if the person did not set out to cause anyone's injury or death. However, an attorney might be able to offer some avenues of defense. Some cases might hinge on whether the person's action was deliberate, but in other cases, a defense might call into question whether the person was involved or responsible. A witness may have misidentified the person, or there might be disagreement as to whether a reasonable person could have known the action would lead to injury or death.

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 York County Bar Association South Caroline Bar NACDL South carolina association of criminal defense lawyers United states court of appeals | For the Fourth Circuit
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