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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: March 13, 2013 12:05 PM
From: Senator Michael L. Waugh
To: All Senate members
Subject: Involuntary Manslaughter Offense Upgrade
I am reintroducing legislation that amends section 2504(b) of Title18 (Crimes and Offenses) of Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes. Under this legislation, if a person denies another person medical care - by either act or omission - and this denial results in the other person’s death, then the offense of involuntary manslaughter is upgraded to a felony of the second degree. This was Senate Bill 1275 of the 2011-12 session of the General Assembly.

This legislation was suggested by a constituent whose son died after taking heroin. When her son showed signs of an overdose, his companion promised to take him for medical care. Instead of taking her son to a hospital, however, he abandoned him. If her son had received medical care, his life would, in all probability, have been saved.

The defendant was initially charged with third-degree murder, but he accepted a plea bargain deal for involuntary manslaughter, which is a first-degree misdemeanor. The district attorney was not confident that he could prove all of the elements necessary for third-degree murder beyond a reasonable doubt, which is why he agreed to accept the plea bargain. After speaking with the victim’s parents, the district attorney suggested this legislation as a way to address this type of offense, which should be treated more seriously than a first-degree misdemeanor.

Co-sponsors of Senate Bill 1275 were Senators Rafferty and Washington.

If you have any questions regarding this legislation, please contact Greg Beckenbaugh in my office at 787-3817 or gbeckenbaugh@pasen.gov .

Introduced as SB854