Vehicular Manslaughter

What is Vehicular Manslaughter?

Vehicular manslaughter is killing someone while driving negligently. There are two types of vehicular manslaughter:

Vehicular Manslaughter with Gross Negligence

Gross negligence is a conscious and voluntary disregard of the need to use reasonable care. In order to be charged of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence the prosecutor must prove these elements of the crime:

  • While driving the vehicle, you committed a lawful act in a manner that might cause death.
  • Your committed act was dangerous under the circumstances.
  • You acted with gross negligence.
  • This act caused the death of another person.

Ordinary Vehicular Manslaughter

Ordinary vehicular manslaughter is also known as misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter. Ordinary negligence is the failure to act as a reasonable person. It is the failure to exercise such care as the majority of humans ordinarily exercise under the same or similar circumstances. In order to be convicted of ordinary vehicular manslaughter, these elements need to be true:

  • While driving a vehicle, you committed a misdemeanor or an infraction, or committed a lawful act in an unlawful manner.
  • The committed act was dangerous under the circumstances.
  • You acted with ordinary negligence.
  • This act caused the death of another person.

Penalties for Vehicular Manslaughter with Gross Negligence

Vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence is a wobbler, meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the offense and your criminal history.
The potential penalties for vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence as a misdemeanor are:

  • Misdemeanor probation
  • A sentence of up to 1 year in a county jail and/or
  • A fine up to $1,000

The potential penalties for vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence as a felony

  • Felony probation
  • Sentence of 2, 4, or 6 years in a California state prison and/or
  • A fine of up to $10,000

 

Legal Defenses for Vehicular Manslaughter

Sometimes people are pressed with charges of vehicular manslaughter even if they are unfair. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you fight these charges. Some of the legal defenses used in these circumstances are:

  • You did not act with negligence or gross negligence. – This can be a difficult thing to prove. Your decision while driving has to argued as not negligent, even if it turned out to be a bad decision.
  • Your negligence didn’t cause the victim’s death. – There is a chance that your driving was not negligent, but the victim was driving with negligence and you happened to be you that was involved in the accident. An experience criminal defense lawyer can get to the bottom of what happened.
  • You faced a sudden emergency and acted reasonably under the circumstances. – Under California law, the person driving who faced an unexpected emergency is only required to use the same care and judgment that an ordinarily careful person would use in the situation.

It’s important to hire an experience criminal defense lawyer to help you fight charges against vehicular manslaughter.

Any questions? Contact us.