A 27-year-old woman has been sentenced to 6 years in prison for her involvement in the death of a Google executive, on a private yacht. Prosecutors argued that she was guilty of manslaughter for providing the amount of heroin that he took, resulting in the overdose that ended his life. What this case really amounted to was an attempt to answer questions of personal responsibility, was it the girl’s fault for leaving the executive as he lay dying on the floor of the yacht or was it his own fault for having agreed to take part in illegal drug use? Prosecutors claim that the woman was responsible for his death as she not only administered the dose of heroin in question, but also because she did not stop to help him.
What are the elements of the crime of manslaughter? How could a call girl be arrested, and sentenced, on such a charge, when someone else clearly asked her to administer an illegal drug? First, it is useful to point out that there are 2 different types of manslaughter identified by California law, voluntary manslaughter (CA Penal Code 192(a)) and involuntary manslaughter (CA Penal Code 192(b)). When someone kills another person unintentionally, they may be charged with involuntary manslaughter.
If you unintentionally cause the death of another person while you are in the midst of committing another crime (such as involvement with illegal drugs or prostitution, in this case), but that crime is not a felony (acting without ‘due caution’), then you could be found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in a court of law. Involuntary manslaughter is always treated as a felony by California law. Penalties include up to 4 years in jail and a $10,000 fine. However, if you intentionally acted with disregard for another person’s life, then you will likely be charged with voluntary manslaughter, which carries with it a possible sentence of up to 11 years in prison and a similar fine.
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