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Ny Criminally Negligent Homicide

By Spodek Law Group | October 18, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 19, 2023)

Last Updated on: 19th October 2023, 07:35 pm


Criminally Negligent Homicide in New York

Criminally negligent homicide is a serious charge in New York that can completely change someone’s life. It’s when someone causes the death of another person by acting in a criminally negligent way. This article will explain what criminally negligent homicide is, what the penalties are, and some real cases.

What is Criminally Negligent Homicide?

Criminally negligent homicide is when someone causes the death of another person by failing to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk that their actions could lead to someone’s death. It’s different from murder because the person didn’t intend to kill anyone. But their actions were so negligent that it led to someone dying anyway.

Some examples could be:

  • Firing a gun randomly into the air and the bullet ends up killing someone
  • Driving extremely drunk and getting into an accident that kills a pedestrian
  • Giving someone medication without checking dosages and they end up overdosing

In each case, the person didn’t mean to kill anyone. But their actions showed a blatant disregard for human life that led to someone’s death. That extreme negligence makes it criminally negligent homicide.

What Are the Penalties?

Criminally negligent homicide is a class E felony in New York. For a class E felony, the possible sentences are:

  • 1 to 4 years in state prison
  • Probation up to 5 years
  • Fines up to $5,000

The judge has discretion in sentencing based on the circumstances of each case. They will consider things like:

  • The defendant’s criminal history
  • If they’ve shown remorse
  • If they have a steady job and ties to the community
  • The recklessness of their actions
  • Victim impact statements

Based on those factors, the sentence could be probation or years in prison. The family of the victim will also likely file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking damages.

Real Cases

Drunk Driver

In one case, a man drank heavily at a bar before getting behind the wheel. He sped through a red light and struck a pedestrian in the crosswalk, killing her. The man was charged with criminally negligent homicide. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 1 to 3 years in prison. Cases like this show the serious consequences of driving while intoxicated.

Reckless Gun Use

Another man was showing his handgun to a friend in his apartment. He negligently fired a round that went through the floor and killed a neighbor downstairs. Though he didn’t intend to shoot anyone, handling a gun so recklessly showed disregard for safety. He was charged with criminally negligent homicide.

Medical Negligence

A doctor prescribed pain medication to a patient already taking other drugs. He failed to check for potentially dangerous interactions. The patient tragically overdosed and died due to the negligence. The doctor was convicted of criminally negligent homicide for the reckless prescribing.


There are some possible defenses to criminally negligent homicide charges:

  • The defendant was not actually negligent and acted reasonably
  • The defendant’s actions were not the direct cause of death
  • The death was just a tragic accident, not due to criminal negligence
  • The defendant did not fail to perceive a risk of death, or the risk was not substantial and unjustifiable

An experienced criminal defense lawyer can argue these defenses and negotiate for reduced charges like criminally negligent assault. But it’s still critical to take every precaution to avoid negligently causing harm or death.


Criminally negligent homicide is a very serious charge in New York that can mean years in prison. It happens when someone causes a death by failing to perceive a grave risk their actions could kill someone. Charges often arise from reckless driving, gun use, or negligence in medical care or other duties. The penalties allow judges to impose probation or years in prison based on the circumstances. These cases highlight the need for care to avoid negligently causing tragedy.

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