Accidental Killing Law and Legal Definition

Accidental killing means a death caused by an act which is lawful and lawfully done under a reasonable belief that no harm is possible. Accidental killing is different from involuntary manslaughter, which is the result of an unlawful act or of a lawful act done in an unlawful way. However, an accidental killing committed in the course of an unlawful, nonfelonious act constitutes involuntary manslaughter. Further, where the defense is that of accidental killing it is not error to fail to give a self-defense instruction.

The Common Law of crimes distinguishes two types of accidental killings. They are accidental killings resulting from unlawful acts of violence not directed at the victim and accidental killings resulting from lawful acts of violence. The first type was punishable as manslaughter and the second type were excusable as homicide by misadventure.