Whenever a person operates a vehicle, whether an automobile or a boat, it comes with potential consequences.
Although accidents can happen to anyone, if a death happens due to reckless driving, a person may face vehicular manslaughter charges.
1. How does the law define vehicular manslaughter?
As opposed to vehicular homicide, which means the person had intent, manslaughter means a person had no intent but negligently operated a vehicle that resulted in the death or severe bodily harm of a person or unborn baby. This applies to not only passengers in the vehicle but also pedestrians and drivers or passengers in another vehicle.
2. How can they prove negligence?
With any court case, the prosecution has the burden of proof. Proving negligence will require witnesses, documentation and more that improper driving caused the accident. Some of the most common reasons for getting charged with vehicular manslaughter include hit-and-runs, distracted driving, speeding, running red lights and racing.
3. What penalties come with a conviction?
The state considers a vehicular manslaughter conviction a second-degree felony. The associated penalties may include up to 15 years in prison, a $10,000 fine, community service and license suspension. Depending on the situation, a person may have alternative options when it comes to sentencing. The court may rule that the person serve time in home detention or probation as well as complete community service. Some judges require a person convicted of vehicular manslaughter to volunteer at a trauma center.
When vehicular death happens, it comes with trauma for everyone involved. Seeking help both emotionally and legally may help ease the process.