Reckless Homicide Indiana

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A Look at the Charge of Reckless Homicide in Indiana

When watching the news, it’s impossible to make it through an entire hour of local or national stories without hearing the word “homicide” at least once. Heck, in Chicago alone, over 750 people were killed in 2015…that’s right, over 750 people….close to 2 people a day. Almost everyone when they hear the word “homicide” automatically thinks of someone acting deliberately to kill or harm another individual. But is that always the case? Well, that then begs the question, in order to be charged with homicide, you have to have committed an intentional, right? Nope!

Surprisingly to most people, you can be charged with homicide if you are acting in a reckless manner alone! There is no mens rea, or requirement of an individual acting knowingly or intentionally in a particular fashion in order to end another human beings life. However, homicide charged by reckless behavior alone may not be charged as high as a crime of homicide with intent as an element, yet still — its homicide nonetheless — with potential penalties that can change a person’s life forever.

So what is Reckless Homicide?

Reckless Homicide is defined by Indiana legislature under IC 35-42-1-5, and it states, “a person who recklessly kills another human being commits reckless homicide, a Level 5 Felony.” A Level 5 felony carries a sentence of anywhere from 1-6 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. This is a far crime from murder/homicide with intent as an element as that crime carries a penalty of 45-65 years with an advisory of 55 years. Yet, while not quite as harsh a penalty, Reckless Homicide is still a very life altering charge.

For a look at all the sentencing ranges in Indiana, click here for a blog on the topic. For another good overview, click here.

But what does it mean to be “reckless?” Recklessness involves behavior that when looked at from an objective, reasonable perspective, “caused a substantial and unjustifiable risk” to another’s life, and as a result, that person (or someone else) dies. Notice, again, there is no language in that definition that requires someone to intentionally look to hurt or kill someone. Actions alone are enough. If you behave in such a way that a reasonable and objective person believes is too risky, if someone dies as a result, you are criminally liable.

The most common ways that Reckless Homicide is charged when someone mishandles a firearm and or drives recklessly in a vehicle. And, as a result, more often than not someone is also sued civilly in a wrongful death lawsuit by the family of the descendant.

Is Reckless Homicide the same as Involuntary Manslaughter?

Simply put, no. While they are similar in nature, involuntary manslaughter involves a situation where someone I acting in a criminal manner, and while they may not have intended kill someone, a person dies as a result of that criminal act.

While Reckless Homicide is not as harsh of a penalty as homicide, generally, it still carries up to 6 years in jail — no laughing matter. And, recklessness is not an easy thing for the prosecutor to prove — making it much more important that you hire a Indianapolis criminal defense lawyer who knows how to fight these charges. So if you or a loved one are facing a Reckless Homicide charge (or any charge for that matter) contact the experienced former prosecutors at Banks & Brower today. Call us or email us 24/7/365 at (317) 870-0019 or We’ve defended people just like you through these tough charges.