Can someone be prosecuted for involuntary manslaughter if they died from another cause? 46 Answers as of June 03, 2013

If someones dies after being beat up severely, but autopsy show other ailments, could those people still be prosecuted for involuntary manslaughter?

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Reza Athari & Associates, PLLC | Armand Fried
Yes. It would be a defense if you could show the person died before the beating, but if the beating played any part in the death, you can be prosecuted.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 11/1/2011
Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
Yes, they can be prosecuted if the Grand Jury returns an indictment but your question supposes an intervening cause of death which is a great defense.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 10/26/2011
Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
If the assault aggravated the death and was a proximate cause of the death, then, sure they can be prosecuted.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 10/24/2011
Giannini Law Office, PC
Giannini Law Office, PC | Robert Giannini
That is a great question. Tobe convicted it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the actions of the defendant were the proximate cause of the death. Information that the "victim" died from other causes would be a strong issue for trial. Please tell me that the accused - or his/her family - has hired a good defense attorney.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 10/24/2011
Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law
Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law | Thomas J. Tomko
If the person's life was shortened by the actions of another, then it is possible to convict.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 10/24/2011
    DeVito & Visconti, PA
    DeVito & Visconti, PA | John E DeVito
    The assailant can be prosecuted for involuntary manslaughter if the victim died of injuries caused by the assailant. If there is a question as to what actually caused the death of the victim, a prosecution may be brought and if a jury decides that the death was caused by the assailants attack, a conviction will result. A case such as this may become a battle of experts (doctors). The defense will be that the victim died of unrelated causes; the prosecution will argue that the assailant contributed to the death of the victim. If the jury is convinced that the assault was not the cause of death than the verdict should be a not guilty. This is a serious matter; and attorney should be consulted immediately.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 10/24/2011
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer | Cynthia Henley
    If the other ailments resulted from the beating or were contributing factors, they can still be prosecuted. Example - guy is stabbed and taken to hospital. While in hospital and as a result of lying in the bed for treatment, develops a blood clot & dies from it. Still the fault of the assaulter. Now, if the guy with the stab wound died from liver disease - WHOLLY unrelated to the assault, then no prosecution.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 10/24/2011
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    It depends on what caused the death. If the death can in any way be attributed to the injuries you inflicted, you can be charged criminally with the death of that person. I once had a client charged with murder when the victim died in the hospital of pneumonia recovering from a gunshot wound.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 10/24/2011
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    If the death was ruled a homicide by the coroner, and that ruling was based on the fact that death was incurred either directly or indirectly by the infliction of the injuries resulting from the beating, a charge of involuntary manslaughter is certainly proper.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 10/24/2011
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
    If the beating is a substantial cause of the death they can be convicted, even if there are other contributing causes.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/24/2011
    Attorney Paul Lancia
    Attorney Paul Lancia | Paul Lancia
    Yes, maybe not convicted, but they can be prosecuted.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 10/21/2011
    Bloom Legal, LLC
    Bloom Legal, LLC | Seth J. Bloom
    Involuntary manslaughter is a very serious and complicated charge. If someone is charged with involuntary manslaughter and the state is able to prove that they did in fact physically injure the decedent, it will become necessary to prove that the proximate cause of death was, in fact, not related to or caused by the injuries received. This can be an exceedingly difficult and complicated process. For this reason, it is often necessary to solicit the assistance of an experienced medical expert to testify as to the cause of death. This is something that you will certainly want to consider hiring an attorney to assist with because the potential penalties for any kind of homicide are very harsh.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 10/21/2011
    Harden Law Offices
    Harden Law Offices | Leonard D. Harden
    Yes. A person can always be prosecuted. The burden is on the state to prove elements beyond a reasonable doubt.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 10/21/2011
    Connell-Savela
    Connell-Savela | Jason Savela
    Yes, the DA will try to prove that the assault sped up the other issues or made the other issues more difficult to treat BUT defense attorney will help you show otherwise.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 10/21/2011
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
    It would depend on whether the injuries caused by the assault and battery could be tied to the cause of death.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/21/2011
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    It could be possible if the beating was a contributing cause of the death.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 10/21/2011
    The Law Offices of Victor J Mazzaraco
    The Law Offices of Victor J Mazzaraco | Victor J Mazzaraco
    Yes, but the prosecution will have to prove it was the beating - or complications directly arising from it - that caused the death.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/21/2011
    Charles Regan Shaw, PLC
    Charles Regan Shaw, PLC | Charles R Shaw
    You can be prosecuted. If cause of death was not the result of the criminal incident, and it is proven, you would be looking at a lesser felony.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/21/2011
    Law Office of Joseph M. Rameaka
    Law Office of Joseph M. Rameaka | Carol L. Ricker, Esq.
    This is a very complex question and would require a careful review of the facts before an answer can be provided. That being said, the cause of death should be stated in any autopsy report. If it is something other than resulting from the battery, the Defendant may have room to argue that other cause of death as a defense. Again, this question is very fact intensive and needs to be reviewed by an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
    Replied: 10/21/2011
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law | Mark Thiessen
    Yes, you take your victim as he lies. If you beat someone up and they wouldn't have died but for running into you, then you are the cause. You really need to hire the best attorney you can because you will be looking at 5-99 years in prison.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 10/21/2011
    Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
    Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
    You can be prosecuted. However, the prosecutor has to prove that the cause of death was as a result of injuries from the crime. This is a question of medical facts and doctors would have to testify as to the cause of death.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 10/21/2011
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    I had a case like the facts you describe in your question. The defendant was prosecuted and it was left to the jury to determine the cause of death. If the beating the person received was even partially responsible for the death the jury will convict. Have your attorney get all the medical information and have him and a doctor go over it to see what chance there is that the beating was responsible for the death.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/21/2011
    Palumbo and Kosofsky
    Palumbo and Kosofsky | Michael Palumbo
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/3/2013
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang | Tracey Sang
    Yes, of course, but it's a possible defense. Even if the victim had other health issues, if he was beaten to death then it doesn't really matter, does it? Everyone has health issues but if they're beaten to death then that's the cause of death. That said, if the defense can show that other factors actually caused the death then the beating is only a beating. But it's still a beating and someone is still guilty of assault.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/21/2011
    Law Office of Edward J. Blum
    Law Office of Edward J. Blum | Edward J. Blum
    Yes. Although those facts may be used at trial to win.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/21/2011
    Jonathan S. Willett Attorney at Law
    Jonathan S. Willett Attorney at Law | Jonathan S. Willett
    Yes, involuntary manslaughter charges can be madeit is up to the defense to raise the "causation" issue if another event caused the death of the deceased.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 10/21/2011
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    You can be charged with any crime, but the burden is on the prosecution to prove every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. If the proximate cause of death was the injuries it does not matter what frailties or other conditions the victim had. You take your victims as you find them is the rule of law. You will be convicted of murder if you intended to kill and manslaughter if you intended to injure and caused the death of a person.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 10/21/2011
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    It depends on whether the injuries caused or helped to cause the death. If the cause of death is unrelated to the injuries then the answer is no.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/21/2011
    Law Office of James S. Lochead
    Law Office of James S. Lochead | James S. Lochead
    The District Attorney files charges and they would not charges a person with manslaughter if it was evident the person died of natural causes. However if a victim is in a weakened physical condition and another person hastens their death, that could be manslaughter.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/21/2011
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    I suppose if you had an expert testify that death was inevitable or caused by other means other than the attack (i.e. the attack was not the cause of death), that may be enough to sway a jury away from manslaughter or convince a prosecutor to drop the charges to perhaps an aggravated assault. If that is the case, you definitely need an expert and an experienced criminal lawyer involved.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/21/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    If the beating was a significant contributing factor to the person's death, they may be prosecuted for manslaughter.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 10/21/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    Yes. You can never prove that "other" ailments are 100% responsible. The assault could have caused it by 0.00000001% and that is enough. Just feel lucky the person isn't being charged with murder.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/20/2011
    Betts Legal Services
    Betts Legal Services | Shawn M. Betts
    The State can try to proceed but would have to prove that the injuries caused from the assaulted resulted in the death, not the other medical issues.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 10/20/2011
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/3/2013
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    In the State of Washington, one is responsible for the death of another only when the decedent dies within three (3) years of the event causing the death. Further, the person must have intended the act that caused the death. Finally the death must be causally related to the act. For example, if I were to shoot someone in the leg, that person would normally not die from that. Let's assume that the victim of my shooting dies of gangrene within 3 years from my gunshot. I would be criminally liable because my intentional act led point a to z to the victim's death from gangrene without any intervening cause. Now let's assume the same facts except this time my victim gets hit by a train within three years and dies. In that case, there would be intervening cause that broke the causal link between the gunshot wound and the victim's demise. Put another way, if you beat someone up and they die of cancer, you would not be liable.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 10/20/2011
    The Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann
    The Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann | Christopher J. McCann
    Yes. It's still possible. It is a very complicated circumstantial factual analysis that has to do with how the law interprets the main cause of death. Even if the victim was already on "death's door," if another person's acts were directly "proximately" responsible for hastening that death, that person can still be prosecuted and convicted.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/20/2011
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