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San Diego Vehicular Manslaughter Attorneys


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Defined under California Penal Code section 192(c), vehicular manslaughter is a felony charge that follows the death of an individual during an auto accident that was caused by a reckless driver. Vehicular manslaughter is an extremely serious charge in the state of California that can result in a lengthy prison sentence, significant fines, and the loss of certain rights. But these cases are not clear cut, and with the aid of an experienced law firm, you may be able to have your charges reduced or dismissed.

Not just any law firm can handle a vehicular manslaughter case, but jD LAW is not like any other firm. Our lead San Diego vehicular manslaughter lawyer is a former LAPD investigator with more than 30 years of experience working in the criminal justice system. With his knowledge and expertise, he can review all evidence in your case, cross-examine witness testimony, and craft a strong defense in a criminal trial to protect your rights. If you or someone you love has been charged with vehicular manslaughter, then you should not hesitate to call our office at (760) 630-2000 to schedule a free consultation.

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Understanding Vehicular Manslaughter Charges

Sometimes called vehicular homicide, vehicular manslaughter is a violent crime charge that has a very specific definition in California. In order for the prosecution to secure a conviction against you, they must prove that:

  1. You were operating a motor vehicle;
  2. You committed an unlawful act, such as a misdemeanor, infraction, or traffic violation; and
  3. That action caused the death of another person.

Alongside this general concept, the court may also consider whether or not ordinary or gross negligence occurred. Negligence refers to any action that breaks the general duty of care one person has to another that may result in an injury or harm. The difference between ordinary and gross negligence is not clearly defined in California penal codes, but gross negligence is typically referred to as an action that has a significant chance to cause great bodily harm or death. Which type of negligence you are charged with could influence whether or not you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony.

Actions that can constitute negligence in a vehicular manslaughter case can include:

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The Consequences of a Conviction

Vehicular manslaughter is a wobbler, meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. The key element of these charges is whether or not you allegedly committed ordinary or gross negligence. With a misdemeanor charge, you can receive:

  • Up to one year in a county jail;
  • Up to $1,000 in fines; and/or
  • Summary probation

In contrast, if you are charged with gross negligence and vehicular manslaughter, you can face either misdemeanor charges or felony charges. Felony charges come with significantly harsher penalties, including:

  • Up to two, three, or four years in a California state prison;
  • Up to $10,000 in fines; and/or
  • Formal probation

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Vehicular Manslaughter and DUIs

Vehicular manslaughter is associated with DUI when a person unintentionally causes the death of another person while driving under the influence. When a person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it is presumed that they are acting negligent or reckless when behind the wheel. If an accident does occur, this individual will likely be blamed, regardless of who was actually at fault.

If you are charged with a DUI in conjunction with a vehicular manslaughter charge, you will likely face felony charges. It is considered a more serious charge when compared to a DUI with injury and requires a strong legal defense to avoid the full ramifications of a conviction.

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Crafting a Strong Defense Against Your Charges

With any vehicular manslaughter charge, only a skilled defense lawyer can help you avoid the harsh consequences, especially if you are also facing a DUI charge. While courts typically file charges against the individual who caused the accident, these cases have several complex factors that must be considered. The district attorney must outline how your actions constitute negligence, whether or not you committed gross negligence, and how your actions led to someone else’s death. In turn, your attorney can work to dismantle each of these arguments and build a strong defense against a conviction.

A skilled attorney may be able to argue that:

  • Your actions were not negligent or unlawful
  • You were a passenger and were not operating the vehicle
  • Your actions did not lead to someone else’s death
  • You were not under the influence at the time of the accident
  • Your breath or blood test results were mishandled
  • You were not treated fairly in the arrest process or your rights were violated in some way

While every case is different, working with a skilled attorney is your best option when facing a charge as serious as vehicular manslaughter. With the team at jD LAW at your side, you can trust that we will thoroughly prepare your defense strategy to get the best possible outcome.

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Contact jD LAW for Proven Defense: (760) 630-2000

In the blink of an eye, everything you know could change. Because of someone else's driving or unavoidable weather conditions, you may have been involved in an accident that caused the death of another person. You may find yourself facing a vehicular manslaughter and DUI charges, turning your world upside down. The good news is you are not alone; reach out to jD LAW today for counsel.

As a San Diego criminal defense attorney, James N. Dicks is experienced in handling complex vehicular manslaughter cases, including those involving DUI. He knows what to look for in order to find holes in the prosecution's case and help you avoid a conviction, get alternative sentencing, or even have your case dismissed altogether.

The team at jD LAW is dedicated to our clients and we will do whatever we can to help you secure the best possible outcome. To get started on your case, contact us at (760) 630-2000 or submit a case evaluation online right away.

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Sample of Case Results

  • Two Counts of Felony Vehicular Manslaughter -
    Not Guilty

View more case results here.


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