Like many other states, Louisiana has a law which makes it a crime to kill someone through negligence, which is a legal term akin to carelessness or thoughtlessness.

What makes this charge scary is that just about anyone in this state has, sometimes several times a day, acted negligently. Missing a red light or other common mistakes behind the wheel are all potentially examples of negligence, and they can each lead to a negligent homicide charge depending on the circumstances of the case.

Likewise, someone who fails to pen up his or her dog can face a negligent homicide charge if the dog attacks and kills a person.

The penalties for a conviction are steep. Even for one offense, a person can face up to 5 years of imprisonment as well as a fine. If the victim happens to be a small child or an infant, there is a mandatory two-year term with hard labor.

Prosecutors do not hesitate to file these charges. For instance, recently, a young man from Baton Rouge was charged with this crime after he hit a parked car. Unfortunately, the force of the impact pushed the parked car in to a house, killing a resident. The young is only 23 years old.

It is important to keep in mind that a person does not have to act intentionally, or even recklessly, in order to face this criminal charge.

While not every Hammond resident has done it, obviously it is fairly easy to hit a parked car if one is distracted or just driving a little too fast for the weather conditions.

This is certainly not the most responsible behavior, but many don’t think of it as the type of malfeasance that should land a person in prison.

Those facing a criminal negligence charge should evaluate their legal options carefully and consider whether defenses are available.