Vehicular Manslaughter is one of the crimes that is usually prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. In many states, it’s a second-degree felony with charges up to fifteen years in a prison or jail and additional fines that may reach up to $10,000.
Having been charged with vehicular manslaughter may lead to impediments in one’s job, social interaction, relationships and other aspects in life. Most of the time, it may wholly devastate someone, regardless of being the victim or accused.
Here are essential things that one should know about vehicular manslaughter.
Vehicular Manslaughter, also known as vehicular homicide, occurs when a driver unintentionally or intentionally cause accidents that result in the deaths of passengers, occupants of other cars, or pedestrians.
To put simply, as Penal Code Section 192(c) states, vehicular manslaughter is the unlawful, negligent killing of another person while driving a vehicle.
Only when one was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, driving recklessly or carelessly, and driving in an illegal manner, such as speeding well above the limit can a vehicular manslaughter be appropriately charged.
There are three general types of vehicular manslaughter. First, Negligent/Reckless Driving is committed by a driver when he/she’s driving a vehicle in such a negligent or reckless manner that it results in the death of another person.
Second, DUI-Related Vehicular Homicide is committed by a driver when he/she’s driving a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, which caused another person’s death. Many states consider a person “under the influence” of alcohol if his/her blood alcohol concentration or BAC is .08% or higher.
Third, Traffic Violation Related Vehicular Homicide is committed by a driver when he/she was engaged in any traffic violation which causes the death of another. It is classified into two parts, namely first-degree and second-degree vehicular homicide.
In some states, first-degree vehicular homicide happens when a driver will do any traffic violations such as unlawfully passing a school bus, engaging in reckless driving, driving under the influence, or fleeing from law enforcement; consequently causing the death of another person.
Can A non-driver be charged with Vehicular Manslaughter?
Yes, it is possible for a non-driver to be charged with vehicular manslaughter. How can it be possible? Well, if a person drops a huge distraction such as a boulder over the street, resulting in car crashes and people dying. That non-driver person would be held responsible and can be charged with vehicular manslaughter. It’s the misdemeanor crime of unintentionally causing the death of another person by violating any one of the state’s traffic laws.
Penalties and Sentences
The penalties for vehicular manslaughter may vary from state to state. For an unlawful behavior,
if one committed a misdemeanor, he/she would likely be sentenced with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charges. Most states would sentence an accused with up to one year in jail and $1,000 in criminal fines.
If one committed a felony, he/she’ll face felony vehicular manslaughter charges. Most states would sentence an accused with up to 6 years in a state prison, $10,000 in criminal fines, and the loss of one’s driving privileges.
For an ordinary negligence, such as taking your eyes off of the road, changing the radio station or leaning over to pick something up off of the back seat; an accused would generally be sentenced to a misdemeanor.
For a gross negligence or felony version, in which an accused’s conduct is so outrageous and reckless that it creates a high risk of great bodily harm or death, he/she would likely be charged with up to 6 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
Furthermore, the court may place one on probation and impose a sentence of up to one year in county jail, probation with no jail time, but order you to do community service or a work release program, or formal probation and assign you a probation officer, instead of a lengthy jail sentence.
A person can’t be automatically charged with a crime in a traffic accident in which he/she involved in, unless the prosecution can prove that he/she was engaged in an unlawful behavior like speeding, drag racing, fleeing police or the scene of a crime, driving under the influence of alcohol; or exhibited negligent conduct like driving while fatigued, adjusting the radio, or eating.
When charged with vehicular manslaughter, a person has a right to assert any argument that explains, excuses, or justifies his/her alleged behavior. It’ll be very difficult for the prosecution to prove one’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt once these arguments are persuasive.
A person can exclude incriminating evidence, such as test results showing that he/she was driving with a blood-alcohol level above 0.08. More likely, law enforcement didn’t comply with procedures established for collecting the evidence, which is a violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights.
A person can argue that his/her intoxication was not the legal cause of the accident resulting in someone’s death. Alternatively, he/she can point that an independent intervening event that is not reasonably foreseeable or outside of his/her control is the legal cause of the death of an incident.
A person can present evidence that his/her reckless driving or apparent intoxication is due to a pre-existing medical condition or medical emergency, and not alcohol or drugs. Nevertheless, driving with a known medical condition may still be charged negligent or reckless driving.
Other defenses that may help includes outside factors that contributed to the cause of the accident such as traffic or weather, disengagement from unlawful or negligent behavior, false accusation, and warranted conduct in the specific situation.
Vehicular manslaughter is a serious charge. It can be brought when somebody is killed in a vehicular accident, even against non-drivers that have caused ruckus in the streets resulting in car crashes and people dying. Different states acknowledges different degrees for vehicular manslaughters.
Some states implement stronger punishments for vehicular manslaughter accidents involving drugged or drunk drivers. If you’re facing vehicular manslaughter charger, see a lawyer right away. Criminal defense attorneys can aid you in evaluating the weaknesses and strengths of the evidence against you. They can give you helpful and realistic advice on how to deal with these charges.
Written by Legal AED Fresno Criminal Lawyer