Law Offices of Kennedy and Brown

What Your Car Accident Could Mean for Your Future

Car accidents in the United States take thousands of lives every year. If you have been charged with vehicular manslaughter or accidentally killed someone in a car accident it is critical you know where you stand in the eyes of the law. If you’re driving was reckless or negligent in your recent fatal accident you could potentially be accused of vehicular manslaughter also known as “vehicular homicide” and as “homicide by vehicle.” Law regarding what classifies as vehicular manslaughter vary depending on what state your accident occurred in.  Every state in the US has clear law regarding vehicular manslaughter. Some states do not classify their vehicular manslaughter laws under a separate category. Instead, these states organize criminally negligent homicide as “death caused by the dangerous operation of a motor vehicle.” However, it is important for you to know and clearly understand the disparities concerning a criminal allegation and non-criminal allegation. It is important to contact your attorney as soon as you get into any car accident especially one that could cause injuries or death to you or others. Your lawyer will be able to explain whether you’ll be charged criminally or not.

A DUI accident where someone is killed is a form of negligent vehicular homicide due to your use of a substance previously or throughout your drive. A DUI is another example of negligent driving. In the United States there are many deaths every year due to drunk driving accident and altercations. The legal blood alcohol limit is different state by state so it’s important to your home states drinking and driving blood alcohol rules so you’re prepared to drive safely while behind the wheel.

States including Minnesota, Washington, and Florida have implemented specific laws encompassing all vehicular manslaughter charges. These states and others with separate policies state that you can be imprisoned for driving or recklessly, negligently, or for killing another person in a vehicle collision. Another state which has strict manslaughter laws in Georgia. In Georgia vehicular manslaughter is classified as a vehicle catastrophe “causing the death of another person while committing a traffic violation.” In states with this law, like Georgia, you may be convicted of “homicide-by-vehicle” in the first-degree due to causing the death of another person while also violating an ordered traffic law. An example of this scenario includes criminally fleeing from an officer or breaking the law by passing a stopped school bus. You will be charged of this crime if the prosecution is able to prove that you were driving with “gross” negligence or recklessness. If the prosecution proves the driver was aware but disregarded the law or your driving posed a substantial threat to others on the road and on the sidewalks, you will likely be tried with a manslaughter case. Most states boast zero lenience for any who caused the death or deaths by an act of “simple negligence.”

If you live in Arizona it is important to note that the state does not possess any vehicular manslaughter regulations for driving-related unlawful killings unlike many other states. If you cause an accident resulting in death in Arizona you may be indicted for homicide under Arizona’s broad-spectrum homicide laws. Any life threatening accident involving death could result in a manslaughter, negligent homicide, or murder charge against you if you were at fault in the accident. There are three key driving related homicide charges in Arizona, negligent homicide, manslaughter, second degree murder. The fourth offense is driving under the influence (DUI) which falls under the negligent homicide category in the state of Arizona. However, if you are in trial for negligent homicide it is important to understand that this is a class four offence. You and your lawyer will plan your defense in hope for the least long sentence in jail. The average time in jail for a negligent vehicular homicide ranges from one to four years in prison and can cost up to $150,000 in payment penalties. If you are charged with manslaughter, you were charged with a class 2 felony, which is less of a felony than a class four. However, you should expect a punishment of between three years and 12 years in prison as well as up to $150,000 in fines. If you are convicted of second-degree murder, a class 1 felony, the strictest felony to be convicted of, you will probably be forced by law to serve from ten to 25 years in prison and you also may have fines costing up to $150,000. If you accidentally kill a victim under the age of 12, you could serve life in prison. If you are convicted of a DUI accident which resulted in a death, you may be incriminated with “gross” vehicular manslaughter DUI charge. In this case, there is a possibility you are penalized with all DUI consequences as well as up to 10 years in the state prison in which your DUI occurred.

Since the application of countrywide stay at home orders the number of traffic accidents has exponentially decreased. However, unfortunately, though there are less accidents, of the accidents that still occur, the accidents are much deadlier. The number of car crashes consequently ending in severe injury and or death have increased during the COVID-19 quarantine between March 15 and April 1 2020. Some experts believe that the lesser number of cars on the road/ lack of traffic have provided the people on the roads with a deceitful awareness of security. The lack of congestion and others has indorsed illegal and deadly road etiquette such as speeding, texting and driving, and numerous additional actions considered irresponsible by the law.

Vehicular homicide is a very serious infraction in every state in the US. If you have been charged with a form of vehicular homicide, similar offense or any delinquency correlated to a fatal car accident, it’s critical you contact your criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will clarify your justifications and how your specific state law relates to your lawsuit and accident.

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About the Author

I offer personalized legal aid in Forty Fort, PA. I'm specialize in a variety of case areas, including personal injury, slip and fall injuries, workers compensation, auto accidents, dog bite attacks, wrongful death and survival cases, and Social Security disability.

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