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Criminally negligent homicide is a class 5 felony in Colorado.
A person commits the crime of criminally negligent homicide if he causes the death of someone by conduct amounting to criminal negligence.
To prove that a person committed the offense of criminally negligent homicide, a prosecutor must prove the following elements:
Example 1: A person is driving down the road and decides to run a stop sign. As they are running a stop sign, they collide with a pedestrian who is crossing the road. The pedestrian suffers injuries that cause her to die.
Example 2: A college student has several drinks at a graduation party. A couple of friends are drunk and ask him for a ride home. He isn’t drunk when he leaves the party but is definitely feeling the effects of the alcohol. On his way home, he gets into an accident with another car and one of the passengers in his car dies.
Example 3: A gun owner likes to keep a loaded gun on top of his nightstand when he goes to bed. During the night, he hears a noise in his apartment. When he reaches for his gun, he fumbles with it and accidentally discharges it into the wall of his bedroom. The bullet ends up making its way into his neighbor’s apartment and strikes him in the head.
If you are convicted of criminally negligent homicide, you could be sentenced to the department of corrections for 1-3 years. You could also be sentenced to probation or a halfway house.
The Colorado Supreme Court has stated, “to be guilty of criminally negligent homicide, the defendant must fail to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk that a certain result will occur. The risk must be of such a nature that the defendant’s failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from a reasonable person’s standard of care. The defendant’s guilt stems from his culpable failure to perceive the risk.” In short, if a person engages in risky behavior that causes the death of another person, they could be charged with negligent homicide.
The Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that a defendant does not have to intend to kill someone in order to be convicted of criminally negligent homicide.