Dec 30

For the most part, moving violations and other traffic offenses represent misdemeanor offenses under Illinois law. But when an accident leads to an unintentional fatality, a driver can face felony charges for involuntary manslaughter or reckless homicide. As explored in more detail below, the involvement of certain vehicles can turn involuntary manslaughter into reckless homicide.

What is Involuntary Manslaughter in Illinois?

720 ILCS 5/9-3 provides the Illinois laws against involuntary manslaughter. This section makes it unlawful to kill another person without intending to do so. But to qualify as involuntary manslaughter, the offender’s actions must be reckless or otherwise create a likelihood of great bodily harm or death.

Section 9-3 also explains the penalty for involuntary manslaughter. This offense is usually a Class 3 felony in Illinois. The statutory penalty for a Class 3 felony includes a prison sentence between two and five years as well as criminal fines up to $25,000.

Though in certain cases, involuntary manslaughter can become a Class 2 felony, including situations where the victim was a family or household member and those resulting in multiple fatalities.

What is Reckless Homicide in Illinois?

Section 9-3 furnishes the Illinois laws against reckless homicide. There are two versions of reckless homicide under this section.

The first version of reckless homicide prohibits any person from committing involuntary manslaughter while operating any:

  • Motor vehicle;
  • Snowmobile;
  • All-terrain vehicle; or
  • Watercraft.

The second version of reckless homicide prohibits any person from unintentionally causing a death while:

  • Operating a vehicle on an incline in a road, such as a hill, bridge approach, or railroad crossing; and
  • Sending the vehicle airborne. 

Section 9-3 also explains the penalty for reckless homicide. This offense is usually a Class 3 felony in Illinois, punishable as explained above. 

But as with involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide can become a Class 2 felony.

The circumstances that trigger the Class 2 felony version of reckless homicide include but are not limited to:

  • School zones where a crossing guard is performing their official duties;
  • Construction or maintenance zones;
  • Death of a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical worker performing their official duties; and
  • Death of at least two people.

The statutory punishment for a Class 2 felony in Illinois includes a prison sentence between three and seven years and criminal fines up to $25,000. 

In certain cases, the prison sentence can increase dramatically. When reckless homicide causes the death of multiple people, for example, the offender will face a prison sentence between six and 28 years. 

Do You Need Legal Help?

No matter what the criminal offense is, all charges are serious. A sound strategy and an aggressive defense are essential for a positive outcome. To protect your rights in such situations, it is highly advisable to retain legal counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney.

The Prior Law Firm in Bloomington, Illinois, has proven experience in matters of criminal defense. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free consultation. You can reach The Prior Law Firm by phone at (309) 827-4300, email at, or by completing an online form.