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It Was an Accident: Reckless and Negligent Homicide

Brandon Smith was lying in bed with his girlfriend in his Avon Lake Ohio apartment. His roommate, Ryan Raider, entered the bedroom drunk and playing with one of the guns the two men kept in the house. Suddenly, the gun went off, hitting Smith. He was flown to a Cleveland hospital, but died soon thereafter. Raider claimed the gun slipped, he grabbed at it, and it went off. The police charged him with reckless homicide.

Both reckless homicide and negligent homicide are criminal offenses in which a victim ends up dead. The difference between these two homicides, and differentiating them from murder or manslaughter, is the lack of any intent whatsoever on the part of the killer to have caused the death. In many of these cases, such as in the incident above, the victim and the killer are friends or relatives, and the crime is a tragic accident.

When recklessness results in death

Under Ohio law, you commit reckless homicide if you engage in reckless behavior that results in another person’s death. An example is the Avon Lake case described above in which the firearm was accidentally discharged. Raider’s combination of intoxication and playing with a loaded gun resulted in his friend’s death. It wasn’t intentional, but it was the result of reckless behavior. Reckless homicide is a third-degree felony, with a potential prison sentence of one to five years.

When criminal negligence causes another to die

Under Ohio law, you commit negligent homicide if you kill someone with a deadly weapon because of your negligent behavior. Negligence can include something as mundane as keeping a loaded gun in an unlocked cabinet where a child can reach it. Negligent homicide is a first-degree misdemeanor with a potential prison term of up to six months in jail.

The assistance of a skillful and experienced attorney can make a difference between being charged with a felony reckless homicide or a misdemeanor negligent homicide. If you are charged with either reckless or negligent homicide, it is crucial to contact the experienced Ohio criminal defense attorneys at Yavitch & Palmer Co., LPA. We have the resources to properly investigate all the circumstances of an offense to make the best case for you.

The Ohio criminal defense attorneys at Yavitch & Palmer Co., LPA have years of experience defending vehicular homicide cases. Our tenacious defense of DUI/OVI cases includes vigorous courtroom questioning about the reliability, accuracy and validity of breath, blood and urine testing for alcohol and drugs.

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