Car accidents in California are relatively common. Most of us have been in a car accident or two in our life times. Many people injure themselves and others in car accidents every day. In most cases, you will not be criminally charged for injuring someone in an accident, even if you caused it. However, if you kill someone as a result of your negligent or otherwise unlawful driving behavior, you can face charges of vehicular manslaughter. Under California penal code 192, vehicular manslaughter, also sometimes called vehicular homicide, is the unlawful killing of someone as a result of reckless, negligent or otherwise unlawful driving. For example, if you unintentionally kill someone while driving and the death occurred as a result of you breaking some other law, you can face charges of vehicular manslaughter. It is important to note that vehicular manslaughter charges only apply in instances where there was no malice or forethought involved in the death. There are two types of manslaughter charges that can apply to vehicular manslaughter scenarios and while both may still result in a vehicular manslaughter charge, the penalties will vary for each one. Involuntary manslaughter would be the unintentional killing of someone that occurred as a result of gross negligence, wanton disregard for others' safety or some form of criminal behavior. Voluntary manslaughter is killing someone with intent, but in response to legitimate reason, such as provocation. In the face of malice or any forethought, you may face murder charges. Even if you had no malice or forethought, the prosecution could potentially try to find your guilty of murder, if they felt you had criminal intent to kill that person. Speak to an attorney if you are facing murder charges as a result of your negligent or reckless driving. The different between a vehicular manslaughter and murder charge is great so make sure you give yourself the best chance for a favorable outcome.
Among California's driving crimes, vehicular manslaughter is one of the more serious ones. Vehicular manslaughter is punishable by either up to one year in jail or two to ten years in prison, depending on the circumstances of the crime. The range of punishments is broad, dependent upon the circumstances and facts of the crime. If you are facing charges of vehicular manslaughter, contact a criminal defense attorney with experience in driving crimes right away. For the prosecution to convict you, they must prove that your gross negligence or unlawful driving was the proximate cause of the death of a person. There are a range of acts that can be considered gross negligence or unlawful while driving. For example, if you were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you were driving negligently and unlawfully. If you were speeding excessively or otherwise driving recklessly, and killed someone as a result of your reckless driving, you can be charged with vehicular manslaughter. Or, if you were driving unsafely in a school zone during school hours, your driving may be considered gross negligence and you could face vehicular manslaughter charges if you killed someone in that zone. It is very important to speak to an attorney about your case if you are facing these charges. Understanding just what gross negligence is or what you were doing unlawfully will be an important part of your defense. Gross negligence is proven when it is found, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you were acting with enough disregard for others' safety that you violate their right to safety. As all California drivers have a right to safe roads, acting against this right will result in criminal prosecution.
It is important to note that in California, with its vast stretch of coastal waters and large amount of lakes; vehicular manslaughter applies to unintentionally killing someone while operating a boat. This is important because while it is easier to get away with drinking while operating a boat, versus a car, the penalties for hurting or killing someone as a result of your negligence are going to be equivalent to, but may not match, those as if you were driving a car. It may also be easier to kill someone while driving your boat in waters where there are swimmers, as they do not have the protection of car. Similarly, you can face charges of vehicular manslaughter if you kill either a driver or passenger in another car, a pedestrian or a cyclist.
If you are facing charges of vehicular manslaughter in Tulare, Kings or Fresno counties, The Law Offices of Christopher Martens can help. Experienced in driving crime defense, attorney Christopher Martens can fight aggressively for you and will not be afraid to take your case all the way. Contact our Visalia or Hanford offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at MartensLaw@gmail.com to discuss your options for defending your case.