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People v. Marshall

    Brief Fact Summary. Defendant voluntarily gave the keys to his car to a man he knew was drunk. The man driving Defendant’s car crashed into another car and both drivers were killed. Defendant was charged with involuntary manslaughter.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. The accountability of Defendant must rest upon his complicity in such misconduct.

    Facts. Defendant was tried and convicted for involuntary manslaughter. The Government alleged that Defendant gave the keys to his car to McClary with knowledge that McClary was drunk. McClary crashed head on with another car, killing both drivers. Defendant was acquitted and the State timely appealed.

    Issue. Whether Defendant could be found guilty of involuntary manslaughter when he was not involved in the commission of the crime.

    Held. Affirmed.
    The accountability of Defendant must rest, as a matter of general principle, upon his complicity in such misconduct.

    Defendant did not act jointly with the drunk driver, and did not participate in the actual driving which would be required for the Defendant to be found guilty of the crime.


    Discussion. The Court noted that Defendant was guilty of violating a State code which made it a violation for a car owner to knowingly allow his car to be driven by an intoxicated individual. However, the Court ruled, there is no code section or description of a crime that would make Defendant guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Except for giving his keys to the drunk driver, Defendant was home and asleep when the crime was committed. If the people would like to make Defendant’s conduct fall within the realm of involuntary manslaughter, it as a job for the state legislature and not the courts.


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