One wrong move in a motor vehicle can result in the end of someone else’s life and serious criminal penalties in yours. These accidents can land you in prison and leave you responsible for paying thousands in fines. It’s important to work with a Folsom vehicular manslaughter lawyer to avoid the worst consequences.

Are you being accused of causing an accident that resulted in someone else’s death in Folsom? Call Walsh Law today at 916-237-8270 or use our online contact form to speak with an experienced vehicular manslaughter attorney.

What Is Vehicular Manslaughter in California?

Vehicular manslaughter is defined in California Penal Code Section 192(c) PC. This charge may arise when someone drives a vehicle in a negligent or unlawful manner and causes the death of another person.

Examples of vehicular manslaughter include:

  • Texting while driving and causing an accident, which kills another person.
  • Speeding on the highway and crashing into another car, killing the other driver.
  • Drinking and driving, causing an accident, and killing another person.

Elements of Vehicular Manslaughter

Folsom prosecutors must prove two essential elements to convict you of vehicular manslaughter.

1. Negligent or Unlawful Driving

It must be proven that you were driving your vehicle in a negligent or unlawful manner. Negligence indicates that you had a legal duty, and you breached that duty. Negligence may be either gross or ordinary. However, there is a significant difference between the two concepts.

Ordinary negligence is the most common type of negligence. It occurs when a person fails to take care that a reasonable person would take to avoid harm to others. For example, if a person is driving a car and rear-ends another car, they may be found to be negligent if they were speeding or following too closely.

Gross negligence, on the other hand, is a more serious type of negligence that involves a conscious disregard for the safety of others. It is often described as “reckless” or “wanton” behavior. For example, if a person is driving a car while intoxicated or texting while driving, they may be found to be grossly negligent.

2. Causing Death of Another Person

The prosecution must prove that you caused the death of another person with your actions. This may seem simple, but it can be complex to prove, especially if there were intervening actions.

For example, if you were texting and driving and another car illegally merged into you and then that car hit someone else causing their death, the prosecutor might find it difficult to prove that your texting and driving was the actual cause of death of the other person.

Charges Related to Vehicular Manslaughter

Since vehicular manslaughter often involves other negligent or unlawful actions, it is possible to get other charges at the same time, such as:

  • Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated (California Penal Code Section 191.5(b) PC): This felony offense involves driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and engaging in an additional negligent act that results in another person being killed.
  • Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated (California Penal Code Section 191.5(a) PC): This felony offense involves driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and acting with gross negligence to cause an accident that kills another person.
  • DUI Murder (California Penal Code Section 187 PC): This felony offense is prosecuted as murder rather than manslaughter. It involves killing another person while driving under the influence if you are a repeat DUI offender.

Vehicular Manslaughter Penalties in California

Considered a form of homicide, vehicular manslaughter is one of many wobbler offenses in California. That means it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the severity of negligence.

If you acted with ordinary negligence, you may face a misdemeanor charge with penalties of up to one year in jail. If you acted with gross negligence, you may face a felony charge with penalties of up to six years in state prison.

Other Potential Consequences of Vehicular Manslaughter

Aside from incarceration for a vehicular manslaughter conviction, you could face:

  • Community service
  • Probation
  • Loss of professional license
  • Loss of driver’s license
  • Citizenship or immigration issues
  • Loss of firearm rights
  • Difficulty finding housing and a job

Defenses to Vehicular Manslaughter in Folsom

Facing vehicular manslaughter charges can be a nightmare. However, it is possible to defend yourself against these charges. Folsom vehicular manslaughter attorney Chris Walsh knows how the prosecution develops cases like yours. He understands the law and will use his knowledge to fight for you.

By developing the best defense possible, your charges could be reduced or dropped entirely. Some common vehicular manslaughter defenses include:

You Did Not Act with Negligence

The prosecution may be claiming that your actions were negligent. If you can show that you were not negligent, then you may be able to avoid a vehicular manslaughter conviction.

Your Actions Did Not Cause the Victim’s Death

The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your actions were the actual cause of death of the victim. If you can show that there was an intervening action that caused their death, then you may avoid a conviction.

You Acted Reasonably Under the Circumstances

Negligence indicates that you did not act reasonably under the circumstances. If there was an emergency or other reason for your actions, then you may be able to show that you acted reasonably and avoid a conviction.

Vehicular Manslaughter Charge FAQs

Can I be charged with vehicular manslaughter if I caused a fatal accident while drinking and driving?

You may be charged with vehicular manslaughter if you were drinking and driving and caused an accident that resulted in a death. This may be considered gross negligence and could result in a felony charge.

What is gross negligence?

Gross negligence is a legal term that describes a failure of care that demonstrates a reckless disregard for the safety or lives of others. It is so great that it appears to be a conscious violation of other people’s rights to safety. Gross negligence is more serious than ordinary negligence, and it can result in felony charges.

What should I do if I’m charged with vehicular manslaughter?

If you have been charged with vehicular manslaughter, it is important to contact an attorney immediately. An attorney can help you understand the charges against you, your legal options, and the potential consequences of a conviction.

Get Help from a Folsom Vehicular Manslaughter Attorney

If you were in an accident while driving a motor vehicle and someone died, you are likely grieving already. Being thrust into the light with blame for the death is the last thing you need. The Folsom vehicular manslaughter lawyers at Walsh Law will take some stress off your shoulders by handling all the legal matters for you. We will work to clear your name and get your charges dismissed or reduced.

Call 916-237-8270 today or fill out of secure contact form to schedule a free initial consultation.

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