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What is reckless homicide?

Reckless homicide can be a Class B or Class C felony, depending on the circumstances of the case. The charge generally applies when authorities believe someone has caused another person's death through reckless endangerment of some type.

When authorities believe that someone has caused another person's death through disregard for another human life, that person might be charged with a Class B felony. Class B felony charges might also apply when disregard for human life caused the death of an unborn child, according to Wisconsin law.

Reckless homicide charges become a Class C felony charge in some cases. Delivering or manufacturing a controlled substance in violation of laws might lead to a Class C felony reckless homicide charge if someone dies as a result of using such substances. The law provides specific details for when such offenses become Class C felonies.

Because the law provides for many types of homicide and murder charges, it's important for someone facing allegations to understand what, exactly, is being charged. The type of charge can alter possible sentencing greatly, so criminal defense strategies often include work to negotiate to lesser charges.

In other cases, strategies are to prove a person innocent of charges altogether. In a case involving reckless homicide charges, this can include proving that something was an unfortunate and unavoidable accident that was not caused by someone's actions or disregard for life. Obviously, such definitions can border on gray areas and rely in part on how a jury, judge or prosecutor sees the evidence and facts. A strong defense helps to put the facts in a light that is favorable for the defense.

Source: Wisconsin State Legislature, "940.02 -- First-degree reckless homicide," accessed July 31, 2015

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