Negligent manslaughter | UCR Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction

Negligent manslaughter, as defined by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), refers to the killing of another person without malice but as a result of criminal negligence or recklessness.

Negligent manslaughter is also known as involuntary manslaughter.

Let’s break down what negligent manslaughter really means. It involves two main elements: death and negligence. In this case, someone’s reckless behavior or carelessness results in the death of another person. Unlike murder, however, the person didn’t intend to cause harm. But their negligent or reckless actions had a fatal outcome, making them legally responsible.

Negligent vs. Intentional Killing

The critical difference between negligent manslaughter and other crimes involving death, like murder, lies in intent. In a murder case, the killer meant to harm or kill the victim. But with negligent manslaughter, the death is accidental. The person didn’t plan or want to cause death, but their actions led to it anyway.

Examples of Negligent Manslaughter

To illustrate, let’s consider some examples. Say a person decided to drive home after a party even though they had too much to drink. Their decision to drive while intoxicated is reckless and could be considered criminally negligent. If they caused an accident and someone else died, that could be a case of negligent manslaughter.

Another example could be a caretaker who forgets to check on a dependent elderly person under their care. If the elderly person passes away because of this neglect, it could be considered negligent manslaughter.

Consequences of Negligent Manslaughter

The consequences of negligent manslaughter are severe. If convicted, a person can face jail time, fines, or both. Additionally, they could be on probation for several years and required to participate in community service. After all, even though the death was accidental, the person’s negligence caused it.

The Role of Criminal Justice

The criminal justice system plays a vital role in these cases. Law enforcement investigates the circumstances of the death, and prosecutors decide whether to charge someone with negligent manslaughter. If the case goes to court, a judge or jury will determine the person’s guilt or innocence based on the evidence.

Preventing Negligent Manslaughter

This crime is preventable. It starts with each of us taking responsibility for our actions and understanding the potential consequences. Whether we’re behind the wheel, taking care of someone, or just going about our day, we need to act responsibly.


All in all, this is a serious crime that occurs when someone’s recklessness or negligence leads to another person’s death. It’s a reminder that our actions have consequences, and we need to be mindful of how we act. We each have a role to play in preventing this crime and ensuring everyone’s safety.

Learn More

On Other Sites

Robson, M., Maskill, J., & Brookbanks, W. (2020). Doctors are aggrieved—should they be? Gross negligence manslaughter and the culpable doctorThe Journal of Criminal Law84(4), 312-340.

On This Site

Criminal Law » Section 3.1 » Manslaughter

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Last Modified: 06/30/2023


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