The Springfield ABC affiliate, KSPR, recently ran a story explaining the Missouri Involuntary Manslaughter statute in more detail following a controversial Springfield case which has left the elected prosecutor and a Circuit Judge at odds. Springfield criminal defense attorney Adam Woody was interviewed as to his opinion on the topic.
Essentially, the involuntary manslaughter statute is very broad, ranging from negligently causing the death of another person, recklessly causing the death of another person, causing the death of another person who is a passenger in your vehicle while in an intoxicated condition, or causing the death of another person who is not a passenger in your vehicle while in an intoxicated condition. Each of these offenses carries a different range of punishment, and each are a different level of felony. For example, negligently causing the death of another person is a class D felony, which carries 1 to 4 years in prison, whereas causing the death of another person who is not a passenger in your vehicle while intoxicated is a class B felony, which carries 5 to 15 years in prison. On the class D felony, probation is routinely granted by Courts. However, on the class B felony, probation is more rare.
In this controversial case, Judge David Jones explained in a hearing earlier this week that he believes probation on involuntary manslaughter cases is not all that unusual. The elected prosecutor of Greene County, Dan Patterson, disagreed. Our take, and the crux of the news story in which Adam was interviewed, is that the two parties are likely talking about two different things. The Judge may be talking about involuntary manslaughter in general, whereas the prosecutor may be referring solely to Class B felonies. In any event, disagreements between judges and prosecutors or defense attorneys is nothing new. However, the way this particular disagreement has played out in the media is a relatively uncommon occurrence, and it is our opinion that it should stay that way. In the media is no place to litigate your case or to advocate your cause. That should be left to the Courtroom.