Vehicular Manslaughter - Penal Code 192(c)
When you examine the law related to vehicular manslaughter and compare it to second-degree murder (as far as driving offenses go), you see it as murky at best.
If the jury feels you deserve to be convicted of murder for what happened, they will condemn you regardless of the law.
My point is that there is no bright line that defines which driving-related offenses are murder and which are vehicular manslaughter under California Penal Code 192(c).
There is a vast difference between the punishments for these offenses. Your best defense is to hire an attorney who has been down this road before and had great success.
One who knows the law and can argue it effectively in front of a jury and who can get your story across so that the jury does not believe that you deserve to be convicted of murder and serve fifteen to life in prison.
Murder vs. Manslaughter Charges
What are the crucial factors determining if you are convicted of murder or manslaughter? The most critical factor that a jury will be looking at is how egregious your conduct was under the circumstances of your cases.
Did you act with wanton disregard for human life with a malignant heart? Or where you are grossly negligent in your actions and not deserving of the most severe punishment.
Trying to find the dividing line between gross negligence and wanton disregard for human life is not an easy task and one that should be left to a seasoned defense attorney who has fought these cases and seen how a jury will resolve this issue.
Figuring out what a jury's thought process will be in any given case and what it will take to convince them that you do not deserve a murder conviction should be left to the trained, battle-tested professional.
Charges of Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated
Some factors that will be considered in determining whether a person should be prosecuted for vehicular manslaughter versus murder relate to whether the charged person was using alcohol or drugs when involved in criminal conduct.
The most common case that I see being prosecuted as a murder charge is the scenario where someone drinks alcohol, drives their car, and ends up in an accident where a death occurs.
In this situation, the jury will decide whether the person knows or should have known that it is dangerous to human life to drink and drive. This is why in all DUI cases, judges across Los Angeles county are giving defendants a “Watson Advisement.”
This means that they are explicitly telling them that it is dangerous to human life to drink alcohol and drive, and if they do so in the future and death occurs, the prosecutor can charge them with second-degree murder.
If someone took a prescription medication that they did not know would affect them negatively, they would have a much stronger argument that they should not be charged with murder because they could not have foreseen the wrong result.
Speeding, a Death and a Murder Charge
Another scenario that I have recently seen is those who have a history of speeding and driving recklessly, becoming involved in a death-related accident, and being charged with murder. This is occurring more and more frequently in Los Angeles courthouses.
This is true even when there are no drugs or alcohol involved. In these cases, the prosecutors have to prove that the charged person should have known that their actions before the accident were reasonably likely to cause death, and they did.
This is a scary proposition for most people. When we get in our car, we never intend to hurt anyone. And, any client I have ever defended who is charged with a murder case because of a driving-related accident tells me they never meant to hurt anyone and feel terrible about the result.
Unfortunately, the police and prosecutors are now looking at the fact that someone died, and they have a family who wants justice for what happened.
And, they are not going to let people get away with reckless or dangerous behaviors or hide behind the fact that they were high on drugs, alcohol, or the thrill of going fast in their car.
There has been a massive shift in society related to holding people accountable for their actions and the result of their actions.
Aggressive Defense from a DUI Lawyer
If you find yourself staring at a murder conviction, it is time to stand up for yourself and find an attorney that has the know-how and experience to fight for you, your family, and your way of life. All the marbles are on the line, and there is no time for hesitation.
Vehicular manslaughter is a serious charge, and our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys can help if you are facing such charges. We will answer all your questions and discuss all your options with you.
When you cause the death of another person while driving recklessly or negligently, that is defined as vehicular manslaughter.
If you are driving under the influence and cause the death of another person, this is defined as DUI vehicular manslaughter, which is charged as a felony. Vehicular manslaughter carries penalties as severe as four years and ten years in prison.
Gross Vehicular Manslaughter Charges
Gross vehicular manslaughter is one of the most severe charges someone with a DUI can face.
The judge can impose a ten-year prison sentence for each person killed. The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person was driving under the influence and had a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher. The person committed an infraction or misdemeanor while driving under the influence with gross negligence that caused the death of another person.
Gross negligence is defined as acting in a reckless way that creates a high risk of death or significant bodily injury, and a reasonable person would know that working in such a way creates that risk.
We will do everything we can to contest all evidence presented against you. We will assert all and any defenses that apply to you. We will persistently fight for you.
Working with an experienced and aggressive DUI attorney may have less severe options. We are here to fight for you and to be your advocate. If we can show that the accident may not have been your fault or that you were not intoxicated above the legal limit, we may get your charges reduced.
Our duty to you as our client is to do everything we can to get you favorable results. Our DUI manslaughter attorneys are available for you immediately.
Result in San Fernando Court - Not Guilty
The client was charged with murder after threatening to kill her significant other and chasing her through a red light, causing severe accidents and deaths. Speeds during the chase reached over 100 miles per hour, and an off-duty firefighter was seriously injured during the accident.
We were willing to accept a vehicular manslaughter charge, but the District Attorney's Office wanted a conviction for second-degree murder. After a week-long trial, the jury was not guilty of the murder charge.
The prosecution could not prove that my client's conduct was so wanton and dangerous to justify and sustain a murder conviction. One of the most crucial arguments that convinced the jury not to find my client guilty of the murder charge was that she had decided not to go through the red light, which ended up causing the accident.
Further, my client was young and tricked and manipulated by the alleged victim. To win these types of cases, the defense must be fully prepared and make the correct arguments at the right time.
This has given my very young client a second chance at life and an opportunity to avoid a lifetime in prison. The problem with having too much power is that sometimes the prosecutors misuse their power to try and send people for long prison sentences who do not deserve it.
When push comes to shove, the only thing standing between someone charged with murder and prison for the rest of their life is their criminal defense attorney.
Vehicular Manslaughter in Burbank Court - Not Guilty By Jury
In this case, the alleged victim was driving on the freeway and lost all power to his car. The car stopped on the freeway in the slow lane, and he and his sister remained in the vehicle. My client was driving on the same road and hitting the car, causing the driver's death. The sister lived and was one of the witnesses in the trial.
After a vigorous defense, we established that my client was traveling at the speed limit, that the section of the freeway where the accident occurred was very dark, and that my client had no alcohol or any other controlled substance in his system.
In my opinion, the critical thing that won the case for us was our accident reconstruction expert. The prosecutors used a boring professor as their expert, and we used a straightforward, right-to-the-point guy that made sense.
After the trial, the jury said that our expert was more believable than the prosecutor's and that I convinced them that my client did not do anything wrong. This type of situation could have happened to anyone driving in that lane at the wrong time. The not-guilty verdict in a jurisdiction like Burbank was a huge success story for my client and his family.