Manslaughter & Unintentional injury
French law firm intervening in manslaughter and unintentional injury cases
Involuntary manslaughter can characterised if three elements are gathered:
- The death of a victim ;
- The commission of a fault ; and
- The existence of a certain causal link between the fault committed and the death of the victim.
Law n°2000-647 of 10 July 2000 ‘tending to specify the definition of unintentional offences’ introduced a distinction between « direct » and « indirect » causality:
- a simple fault is sufficient to engage the criminal liability of the direct author of the damage ;
- a qualified fault is required (i.e. a fault of a higher degree of seriousness, as explained below) to engage the criminal liability of the person who has only indirectly caused the damage.
The qualification of causality – direct or indirect – determines the type of fault that may give rise to criminal liability.
The offence of unintentional injury is defined and punished by Article 221-6 of the Criminal Code, which states:
« The act of causing, under the conditions and according to the distinctions provided for in Article 121-3, by clumsiness, imprudence, inattention, negligence or failure to comply with an obligation of prudence or safety imposed by law or regulation, the death of another person constitutes involuntary manslaughter punishable by three years of imprisonment and a fine of 45,000 euros.
In the event of a manifestly deliberate breach of a particular duty of care or safety imposed by law or regulation, the penalties incurred are increased to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of 75 000 euros. »
Article 121-3 of the Criminal Code, to which this text refers, states that:
« There is no crime or offence without the intention to commit it.
However, where the law provides so, there is a crime if the person of another is deliberately endangered.
There is also an offence, where the law provides so, in the case of recklessness, negligence or failure to comply with an obligation of prudence or safety laid down by law or regulation, if it is established that the perpetrator did not take the normal precautions, taking into account, where appropriate, the nature of his duties or functions, his competences and the power and means at his disposal.
In the case provided for by the preceding paragraph, natural persons who have not directly caused the damage, but who have created or contributed to creating the situation which allowed the damage to occur or who have not taken the measures to avoid it, are criminally liable if it is established that they have either violated, in a manifestly deliberate manner, a particular obligation of prudence or safety provided for by the law or the regulations, or committed a serious fault which exposed others to a risk of particular gravity which they could not ignore.
There is no contravention in the case of force majeure. »
The firm Le Tutour represents authors of manslaughterers such as victims of aeroplane accidents and accidents involving defective products.
Solenn Le Tutour is a former Secrétaire de la Conférence. She has assisted clients in more than a hundred criminal investigations and is able to handle criminal and civil actions pertaining to one single case.
Examples of cases
- Investigation procedure in a manslaughter case following a collision between two helicopters in Argentina (Dropped case).
- Investigation procedure in an unintentional injury and manslaughter cases following the manufacture and sale of defective breast implants (PIP case).
- Investigation procedure in a manslaughter case following the death of a child in a swimming pool.
- Investigation procedure in a manslaughter case following the suicide of a pilot of a commercial aircraft (Germanwings case).
- Criminal proceedings for involuntary injuries following the crash of a plane in Courchevel organised by a pilot-client online platform.