Involuntary Manslaughter Laws In California


Stupidity often puts otherwise law-abiding people on the wrong side of the law, but this act in Minnesota might be among the stupidest ever. A young and very pregnant woman, 19 years old, shot and killed her boyfriend. The entire killing was videotaped. Why? Because her boyfriend, in his quest for fame on YouTube asked his girlfriend to shoot him. The girlfriend, carrying the couple’s now fatherless child, made an announcement on Twitter a few hours before the event, stating that they were going to videotape one of the most dangerous stunts ever.

The young man, now deceased, believed that a bullet could not penetrate the hardcover encyclopedia he held against his chest upon which his girlfriend then pulled the trigger on a .50 caliber pistol point blank at the book. It’s all there on the video they planned to post on YouTube.

The young woman has been charged with felony 2nd degree manslaughter, which, in Minnesota, carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence. The manslaughter charge, although a felony as charged in Minnesota, alleges negligence but not intent. More specifically, the charge alleges her “culpable negligence” in creating an unreasonable risk and that she decided to take that risk even though she knew it could cause the death or great bodily harm to her boyfriend. Did she not think it through? Did she so believe her boyfriend that she thought the bullet wouldn’t penetrate the book? Did she just do whatever he asked her to do? What it all boils down to is that most crimes of negligence can be said to be crimes of stupidity.

Although California doesn’t have a crime of 2nd degree manslaughter, the state does have a similar crime of involuntary manslaughter. Similar to the Minnesota law, involuntary manslaughter does not impute intent but criminalizes the killing of a person when the death is the result of negligence, when it should be known that the negligent act could result in the death of another.

Should she go to prison for being stupid? That is just one of many questions this incident raises. I have previously discussed how the brains of young people have not fully mature until a person reaches his or her 20’s. Most studies indicate the age at which most people don’t reach fully brain maturity until age 25 or so. Apparently, neither of the young people involved in this incident had the capacity to evaluate their stupid decision, but were more interested in Internet fame.

And that brings up another issue: The Internet age has generated an entirely new category of criminals, many of them young people. From inappropriate sexting to online bullying all the way to shooting your boyfriend for Internet fame.

Put immature brains together with the power and lure of the Internet and we have a recipe for ruining young peoples’ lives. A young father is dead and his girlfriend may end up in prison, lose her children (the couple also had a three-year-old), and carry a felony conviction on her record for the rest of her life and two children are fatherless. Unfortunately, and tragically, the fame they received was not the fame they sought.

If you or someone you care about has been charged with manslaughter or any other crime in California, contact Orange County criminal defense attorney William Weinberg for a free consultation. Mr. Weinberg may be reached at (949) 474-8008 or by email at