Vehicular homicide is the single most serious driving offense a person can be charged with. If you have been accused of this crime, whether or not the accident was caused by alcohol or drug consumption, please call a skilled San Diego vehicular manslaughter attorney as soon as possible.
Vehicular Homicide Charges in CA
Vehicular manslaughter may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on a number of factors, particularly how the accident occurred and your criminal history. If you have any DUIs on your record, chances are that the prosecution will choose to charge you with a felony. For fatal accidents, you can be charged with a misdemeanor even if you were simply speeding and caused a fatal accident where someone died. If you were grossly negligent in your driving, you can be charged with a felony even if no drugs or alcohol were involved.
If you were driving recklessly and someone survived the accident, you can also be charged with reckless driving with injury. In fact, you can face one charge of vehicular manslaughter for each person who died, as well as one charge of reckless driving with injury for each person injured. This means you could easily end up facing a lengthy sentence even for just one accident.
Manslaughter of all kinds is considered a violent felony, which means it will count as a strike under the state’s Three Strikes Law.
Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated
If you were driving while intoxicated and someone was killed in an accident that was your fault, then you can be charged with felony vehicle manslaughter. If you were grossly negligent while driving under the influence, then you could face up to 10 years in prison. If the person survived, you will still face a felony charge of DUI with injury.
If the victim of the accident did not die, but was seriously injured, you can be charged with causing great bodily injury. Additionally, if evidence points to your having caused the accident on purpose, you could even be charged with murder. Finally, if you fled the scene of the accident, you could also face hit and run charges.
Fighting the Charges
Misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charges can result in a jail sentence of up to one year, while felony offenses can carry prison sentences of between two and ten years depending on the circumstances of the specific case. Having a top defense attorney fighting on your behalf to reduce the charges to a misdemeanor can have a major impact on your future.
It is important to realize that just because someone died in an accident you were involved in does not mean you were responsible for their death. For example, if the person walked in front of your car right as you approached them, it was likely their own negligence that caused the accident. In many cases involving pedestrian deaths, the person behind the wheel feels responsible, but it is not actually their fault. Even if you originally told the police the death was your responsibility, your lawyer may be able to find evidence that the other party caused the accident and that you only confessed because you felt guilty that someone passed away as a result of the crash.
Because these cases are so complex and the evidence involved with major accidents can be so difficult to interpret, having the right lawyer on your side can make a huge difference in the outcome of your case, as he can conduct an independent investigation to determine if you were, indeed, legally intoxicated and if the accident was, in fact, your fault. With the right evidence behind you, you may be able to have the charges against you dropped or reduced, or arrange for you to receive a reduced sentence, before the case even goes to court. If the case does go before a jury, having a skilled attorney can mean the difference between an acquittal or a verdict of “guilty.”
If you have been in an accident where someone was injured or killed and you believe you may be charged with vehicular injury, vehicular manslaughter or murder, please call Peter M. Liss at (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024.
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