In Wisconsin, Second-Degree Reckless Homicide is a Class D Felony with a maximum sentence of up to 25 years confinement and/or $100,000.00 in fines, if convicted. Second-Degree Reckless Homicide means you killed another human yet did so under circumstances that showed at least some regard for human life, which generally means that you took some prudent actions to prevent that person from being killed even though your overall conduct was criminally reckless.
To convict you of Second-Degree Reckless Homicide, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that: (1) you caused the death of another person (your actions were a substantial factor in causing that person’s death); (2) you caused that person’s death by criminally reckless conduct (defined separately below), even though you did so under circumstances that showed some regard for human life. To prove that you acted with reckless conduct the State must demonstrate three things: (1) that your conduct that created a risk of death or great bodily harm to another person; (2) the risk of death or great bodily harm was unreasonable and substantial; and (3) the you were aware that your conduct created the unreasonable and substantial risk of death or great bodily harm.
It is rare for the State to charge you with this offense in the beginning of your case. Most often, this charge is raised at trial as “a lesser included offense” of First-Degree Reckless Homicide, meaning that there are some circumstances where a jury might find a person not guilty of First-Degree Reckless Homicide yet guilty of Second-Degree Reckless Homicide because the actor undertook some acts to prevent the victim from being killed. Nonetheless, there are many potential defenses to Second-Degree Reckless Homicide. In the context of Len Bias, or drug overdose charges, it is common that the person who provided the drugs that killed the overdose victim falsely accuses someone else to avoid criminal consequences. Similarly, in drug overdose cases, it is common for the person who overdosed to have a number of drugs in his or her system at potentially lethal levels at the time of death such that he or she may have died regardless of whether you provided the drugs. Another common defense is auto accident fatalities. There can be multiple causes of an auto collision besides the driver’s reckless behavior, including situations where the driver’s allegedly reckless behavior was not a substantial factor in causing the other person’s death due to mechanical defects, an unanticipated event (ex. swerving to avoid a collision with another vehicle or animal), or distracting behavior of other people in the vehicle that is outside the driver’s control. Our firm has a history of successful defenses in Reckless Homicide cases. We coordinate with leading experts such as toxicologists (scientists who study the effects of drugs on the human body), accident reconstructionist experts, and private investigators to provide our clients with the best possible defense. Please contact our law firm to discuss your case in further detail.