If an accidental shooting occurs, criminal charges can still be filed against the shooter. According to law, causing injury to another person is illegal, even if it is unintentional.
Accidental Shootings are a Crime
Unintentional shootings are considered illegal in most states and usually result in criminal charges that range from criminal negligence to manslaughter. Accidental shootings are more common than most people think, averaging 2,000 or more each year in the U.S. Whether the injury occurs from a practical prank, cleaning a firearm, dropping a firearm, or a firearm malfunction, criminal charges are likely to follow if someone gets hit with a bullet. If the injured person dies, more serious charges of manslaughter, a felony offense, are likely to to be brought against the shooter.
In Minnesota, a recent failed YouTube stunt caused the death of a 22-year-old man. His girlfriend and mother of his two children were charged with second-degree manslaughter in the shooting. In the stunt that killed the young man, his girlfriend fired a powerful handgun at a hardcover book that the man held next to his chest. The girlfriend stated that they both believed that the hard book would stop the .50-caliber bullet before it hit the man. The girlfriend plead guilty to second-degree manslaughter charges, but took a plea deal in exchange for her 180-day jail sentence.
In Seattle, a 95-year-old man killed another man by firing a bullet through his front door. He was charged with second-degree manslaughter for the death of a 51-year-old man who was knocking on his front door. The elderly man is accused of criminal negligence in his handling of a .38-caliber revolver, which he said he had for protection because of recent burglaries at his home. The shooter alleges that when he opened the front door, a man was standing there, and his gun accidentally fired.
Accidental shootings that result in death usually result in a felony charge of manslaughter, also referred to as a criminally negligent homicide. A guilty verdict of manslaughter requires that a person must die as the result of another person’s inherently dangerous actions or actions taken with reckless disregard. A manslaughter conviction typically includes at least one year in jail, but penalties can be much harsher in some cases. For example, a drunk driver with repeated DUIs is likely to face a harsher sentence if he kills someone than a person charged with an accidental shooting under certain circumstances.