Vehicles have become so commonplace in everyday life that people often forget how dangerous they can be. Sadly, accidents happen every day and some people lose their lives in these collisions. What are some things about vehicular homicide that many drivers don’t know or fail to consider when they get behind the wheel
A person may be hit with a vehicular homicide charge at any time. One should never assume because they were injured in an accident that led to another person being killed that they will not be charged until their recovery is complete. Law enforcement officials may enter the person’s hospital room and charge them with this crime. In fact, some defendants are even handcuffed to their hospital bed to ensure they do not leave the facility without law enforcement.
State Laws Vary
Each state determines its own laws with regard to vehicular homicide, thus the person charged with this crime should consult with an attorney in the state where the accident took place. For example, California recognizes several degrees of vehicular manslaughter and reserves the most severe charges for those accidents that are egregious. On the other hand, Louisiana only allows an individual to be charged with vehicular homicide if he or she was under the influence of drugs or alcohol when the incident occurred.
Pregnant women are carrying a human life inside their body. In the event the unborn child dies as a result of the accident, the person responsible may be charged with homicide. This is true even if the mother survives, as human life has been lost. Currently, 38 states have laws in place regarding fetal homicide, and a person needs to know exactly what the law is in the state in which they will be charged with this crime.
A person driving a vehicle who is involved in an accident may find he or she is charged with vehicular homicide if a passenger in the car was killed. Men and women typically assume vehicular homicide charges are reserved for those riding in other vehicles involved in the accident, but this is not the case. Furthermore, a pedestrian killed by an auto may lead to the driver of the vehicle being charged with this crime. Anyone killed in a motor vehicle accident, regardless of where they are in relation to the car, could result in the responsible driver being accused of this crime.
Felony or Misdemeanor?
Vehicular homicide charges may either be a felony or a misdemeanor. This depends on the severity of the action as well as the way the state’s law is written. When a person is merely negligent while behind the wheel of a car, misdemeanor charges are more likely. However, when the driver is grossly negligent or when he or she is in direct violation of a state law or statute, the defendant may be facing a felony charge. Most states, however, charge any person driving while under the influence with a felony.
If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident that resulted in one or more deaths, speak to an attorney today. This is true whether you are the driver responsible for the crash or a victim in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is a serious charge and every person involved needs to make certain their rights are protected. An attorney can be of great help in achieving this goal.