Reckless homicide laws cover incidents of homicide which result from a defendant acting in a reckless manner. Recklessness is a moderate state of liability for one’s actions. Recklessness is less severe a charge than intentional action, but is a more serious category of action than one which is considered negligent.
Reckless homicide cases include a homicide where the defendant did not intend to cause the death of another person, but a homicide still occurred during which the defendant foresaw the possibility that another person may die but elects to pursue the action anyway.
Reckless homicide also includes any homicide which would be considered involuntary manslaughter if not for the fact that it involved the use of a car. Reckless homicide laws also include cases in which a homicide was committed by a person under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In cases involving alcohol, the accused must usually have a blood alcohol content level equivalent to that which would render them prone to prosecution under drunk driving convictions.
A homicide characterized by a reckless indifference to the harm that might befall another person is also referred to as a murder committed with an “abandoned or malignant heart.”
In some jurisdictions a reckless homicide is considered to be manslaughter, although this is not always the case. Reckless homicides are not usually considered to be first degree murder, although if the level of recklessness is considered especially egregious it may result in charges more serious than the normal understanding of liability.
For a homicide to be considered a reckless homicide, the defendant must act in violation of normal understanding of what constitutes an acceptable risk. It is subject to the reasonable person test of what actions would be determined to be unreasonable.