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What Happens If You Kill a Pedestrian with Your Car?

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding | Sep 02, 2022

There are a lot of death-related accidents throughout many counties in California, especially those with more populations like Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino, and people are being arrested at record numbers for killing bicyclists and pedestrians.

So, if you or a loved one is charged with a crime related to death on the road, thinking about what might happen to you is undoubtedly essential.

What Happens If You Kill a Pedestrian with Your Car?

It can be the extreme of you were driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both, and you're facing a Penal Code 187 PC second-degree Watson murder charge and 15 to life in prison, all the way down to you not being charged with anything because you didn't do anything wrong related to the death.

There are these dart-out cases where people run out into the middle of the street in the dark, between cars, nobody sees them, and they end up killing them. 

That person shouldn't be charged with any crime.  Then, of course, there's the middle ground where somebody's driving negligently in some way, and they end up killing somebody

Many times, this even happens in crosswalks where people are crossing the street, and somebody stops, and then that person ends up getting charged with the death doesn't stop, whips around the person that stops, and ends up hitting a pedestrian in the street.  Many more bicyclists in the street also get killed, especially in the dark. 

Vehicular manslaughter is covered under California Penal Code Section 192(c) PC and occurs when someone kills another person unintentionally. In other words, there was no intent to kill them.

PC 192(c) can be filed when someone drives negligently and unlawfully and then causes the death of another person. The severity of the penalties will always depend on the level of negligence (ordinary or gross), whether you were driving under the influence and criminal history. Our California criminal defense attorneys will review this topic further below.

Initial Review of the Facts to Determine Defense Strategy

So, what happens to you will depend on many different factors.  I think, first and foremost, how good your attorney is.

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That is because your attorney is the one who stands between you and jail and prison and you are being charged with a crime or charges being sustained against you a lot of time in criminal cases. 

So, we need to look at the facts of your case. I have you come in, sit down, and go over everything. 

Many times, especially in these severe cases where people die, I will get an accident reconstruction person involved and have them look at all of the circumstances because usually when there's a death, if you ever notice it on the road, they mark it off in yellow tape. 

They won't let you anywhere near it.  That's because the police try to do their accident reconstruction while everything is still fresh on the road so they can assess what happened, why it happened, whose fault it is, and decide whether or not they're going to arrest somebody for a criminal offense.

What Type of Charges Could You Face?

The type of offenses you can face if you've been arrested for any crime would be, number one:

  • California Penal Code 192(b) PC involuntary manslaughter. That's you being negligent on the road, and death occurs, but this is often filed as a misdemeanor, and there is no prison time;
  • California Penal Code 192(c) PC vehicular manslaughter. That's gross negligence, and death occurs, and vehicular manslaughter can undoubtedly cause you to face years in prison;
  • If you're driving crazy or if you have any substance in your body that affects your ability to operate a motor vehicle safely, then you could potentially be facing a Penal Code 664/187 attempted murder charge;
  • Penal Code 191.5 PC – gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated;
  • Penal Code 187 PC – DUI Watson murder;
  • Vehicle Code 23152(a) VC – driving under the influence;
  • Vehicle Code 23152(b) VC – driving with a BAC of .08 or greater;
  • Vehicle Code 23152(f) VC – driving under the influence of drugs.

This type of driving is wanton reckless driving, or if you're driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both.  The difference between grossly negligent driving and wanton disregard for human life-type driving sometimes is splitting hairs and not very easy to figure out. 

That's why we like to do an accident reconstruction if it makes sense.  We'll talk to you about what happened and use common sense and experience, having defended people from death on the road for 30 years.

Contact a Criminal Defense Professional for Help

I've worked for the district attorney's office.  I've worked for a superior court judge, so I have experience in this area. Step one is to determine whether or not there's any fault on your part, and step two is, once we make that determination, to act on your behalf.

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Perhaps your actions didn't cause the victim's death.Often, it can be difficult to parse out the exact cause of an accident; you can argue that your actions didn't cause the victim's death.

If we take the case to trial, we need to do the investigation and get the experts, if necessary, to defend you properly. If on the flip side, we determine that you are guilty, we're going to do mitigation to show the prosecutors, the judge, and even the police the other side of the coin when evaluating you as a person and your case as a whole.

If you need the best if you're charged with death on the road-related scenario, or you're going to be charged, and the District Attorney's office is making a decision right now, pick up the phone directly with the Hedding Law Firm.  Call and make an appointment with Ron Hedding. 

In these cases, we often do prefiling intervention, where I contact the prosecutors in advance.  I give them the necessary information they might need to decide in your case that might benefit you.  I stand at the ready to help you. We offer a free case evaluation by phone, or you can fill out the contact form.

About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding

What Makes Ronald Hedding Uniquely Qualified To Represent You? I've been practicing criminal defense for almost 30 years and have handled thousands of cases, including all types of state and federal sex crime cases. All consultations are discreet and confidential.

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Hedding Law Firm is committed to answering your questions about DUI law issues in California and throughout the United States.

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