Criminal Negligence: Statutory Definition
South Carolina's Criminal Code defines criminal negligence as acting with a "reckless disregard for the safety of others." Moreover, the code states that a conviction for involuntary manslaughter can occur only after a finding, by a judge or jury beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant acted with criminal negligence as defined by the law.
Reckless: Common Law Definition
South Carolina's case law supplements the statutory definition of criminal negligence by further defining "reckless disregard for the safety of others" to mean: conduct that has an unreasonable and high likelihood of causing death or serious harm to another; the actor is aware that his actions are unreasonable and likely to cause death or serious harm to another; and the continues to act in the risky manner.
Extreme Reckless Behavior
Acting with extreme recklessness is a common example of behavior that will likely lead to a involuntary manslaughter conviction. For example, knowing that firing a gun into the air or at a building may injure or kill someone but doing it anyway may result in a conviction for involuntary manslaughter if your action actual result in the death of another.
A conviction for involuntary manslaughter is also possible by failing to act in the proper manner. For instance, a doctor who fails to check whether a patient is allergic to a medicine but uses it anyway and the patient dies may be guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
Involuntary manslaughter is considered the least serious type of homicide in South Carolina. Still, a conviction for involuntary homicide is considered a Class F felony. Under the law, a Class F felony carries a potential sentence of up to five years in a state penitentiary and/or fines and probation upon release.