MN 11.56 Manslaughter in the Second Degree–Elements

10 Minn. Prac., Jury Instr. Guides–Criminal CRIMJIG 11.56 (6th ed.)

September 2020 update

Part II. Specific Crimes

A. Crimes Against the Person

Chapter 11. Homicide

CRIMJIG 11.56 Manslaughter in the Second Degree–Elements

The elements of manslaughter in the second degree are:

First, the death of ___ must be proven.

[1] Second, the defendant caused1 the death of ___, by culpable negligence, whereby the defendant created an unreasonable risk and consciously took a chance of causing death or great bodily harm. “To cause” means to be a substantial causal factor in causing the [death]. The defendant is criminally liable for all the consequences of (his) (her) actions that occur in the ordinary and natural course of events, including those consequences brought about by one or more intervening causes, if such intervening causes were the natural result of the defendant’s acts. The fact that other causes contribute to the [death] does not relieve the defendant of criminal liability. However, the defendant is not criminally liable if a “superseding cause” caused the [death]. A “superseding cause” is a cause that comes after the defendant’s acts, alters the natural sequence of events, and produces a result that would not otherwise have occurred. “Culpable negligence” is intentional conduct that the defendant may not have intended to be harmful, but that an ordinary and reasonably prudent person would recognize as involving a strong probability of injury to others. “Great bodily harm” means bodily injury that creates a high probability of death, or causes serious permanent disfigurement, or causes a permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ or other serious bodily harm.

[2] Second, the defendant, negligently believing ___ to be a deer or other animal, caused the death of ___ by shooting with a firearm (or other dangerous weapon). (A “dangerous weapon” includes any device designed as a weapon and capable of producing death or great bodily harm or any other device that, in the manner it is used or intended to be used, is calculated or likely to produce death or great bodily harm.) The term “negligence” means doing something that a reasonable person would not do, or the failure to do something that a reasonable person would do under like circumstances.

[3] Second, the defendant caused the death of ___ by setting a (spring gun) (pit fall) (deadfall) (snare) or other similar dangerous weapon or device.

[4] Second, the defendant, by negligently or intentionally permitting a ___, (an animal) known by the defendant to have vicious propensities, or to have caused great or substantial bodily harm in the past, to run uncontrolled off the owner’s premises, or by negligently failing to keep the ___ (animal) properly confined, caused the death of ___. This element is not proven if you find by a greater weight of the evidence that ___ (the victim) provoked the animal to cause ___’s (the victim’s) death.

Third, the defendant’s act took place on (or about) ___ in ___ County.

If you find that each of these elements has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant is guilty. If you find that any element has not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant is not guilty.


M.S.A. § 609.205 (1–4).

As to the definition of dangerous weapon, see M.S.A. § 609.02 subd. 6 (dangerous weapon); M.S.A § 609.668, subd. 1 (explosive or incendiary device). See also the Comment to CRIMJIG 13.10.

In State v. Landherr, 542 N.W.2d 686 (Minn. App. 1996), the defendant was charged with attempted manslaughter for the reckless discharge of a firearm. The Court of Appeals held that any an individual who discharges a firearm and injures a person, who does not die, may not be charged with nor convicted of attempted manslaughter in the second degree.

The definition of culpable negligence is drawn from State v. Frost, 342 N.W.2d 317 (Minn. 1983) and State v. Munnell, 344 N.W.2d 883 (Minn. App. 1984). In State v. Frost, the Supreme Court upheld the trial court’s definition of culpable negligence as follows:

Culpable negligence is more than ordinary negligence. It is more than gross negligence. It is gross negligence coupled with an element of recklessness. It is intentional conduct which the actor may not intend to be harmful, but which an ordinary and reasonably prudent person would recognize as involving a strong probability of injury to others.

Frost, 342 N.W.2d at 320.

A stabbing may be culpable negligence. State v. Spann, 289 Minn. 497, 182 N.W.2d 873 (1970).

M.S.A. § 609.205 is not unconstitutionally vague or overbroad. State v. Crace, 289 N.W.2d 54 (Minn. 1979).