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Vista Vehicular Manslaughter Defense Attorneys

Charged With Vehicular Manslaughter in North County?

Vehicular manslaughter is one of the most serious charges you can face in California. Considered a lesser homicide charge, vehicular manslaughter refers to any unlawful killing of another person while operating a motor vehicle. Unlike other homicide crimes, however, vehicular manslaughter can be reduced to a misdemeanor. In addition, the prosecution must demonstrate that you were at fault for the accident. These unique elements can be utilized by a skilled defense lawyer to have your charges reduced or dropped, securing your freedom.

If you or someone you love has been charged with vehicular manslaughter in North County, you should not hesitate to contact a Vista vehicular manslaughter defense attorney. With over 30 years of experience, the legal team at jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys can provide a rigorous and diligent defense on your behalf. We have extensive knowledge of California criminal and vehicle laws that we can utilize in your case. To work with a certified Criminal Law Specialist, call jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys at (760) 630-2000 and schedule a free, confidential consultation.

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Understanding California Penal Code 192(c) – Vehicular Manslaughter

Vehicular manslaughter is defined under California Penal Code 192(c) as the wrongful killing of someone through an act of negligence while operating a motor vehicle. For the prosecution to secure a conviction against you, they must demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that you:

  • Operated a motor vehicle in an unlawful manner that amounts to a misdemeanor or infraction, or performed a lawful act in a negligent manner;
  • That action was likely to cause injury or death to another person; and
  • A person died as a result of the misdemeanor, infraction, or negligent action you committed.

Simply put, the prosecution must prove that you committed a dangerous driving maneuver, such as driving over the speed limit or running a red light, or you committed a misdemeanor or infraction, such as driving under the influence, and those actions led to someone else’s death. These cases can include the death of another driver, a pedestrian, or a passenger in your own vehicle.

Vehicular manslaughter cases are complicated, as there are several factors that could have contributed to the death. The police may wrongfully accuse you of a crime if someone died in a collision even if you were not at fault for the collision. In addition, negligence is a complex concept that can apply to a variety of actions, including poor vehicle maintenance, not turning on your headlights, or dangerous turns. However, not all acts of negligence directly contribute to a collision, and there may be other reasons for the victim’s death. That is why it is important to have your case reviewed by an experienced attorney; otherwise, you might face a wrongful conviction.

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Assumed Fault in DUI Cases

California has zero-tolerance laws for DUI cases, often leading to harsh penalties for anyone accused of being intoxicated during a crash. If you are involved in a vehicle collision and the police believe you are intoxicated, they may require you to take a breathalyzer test. If the test shows that you have a BAC of 0.08% or higher, then the officers overseeing the accident may immediately fault you for the collision, especially if someone died during it.

But there are many issues with this concept of assumed fault. For one, even if you were intoxicated, that does not mean you were automatically at fault for someone’s death. Another driver could have done something foolish that caused the collision and death. Or, even if you were partially at fault for the accident, a positive breathalyzer test should not be taken as the final word. As common as these devices are, they can register false positives if improperly administered. Police officers should follow procedure when performing these tests and do their due diligence in investigating an accident. Automatically assuming a seemingly intoxicated driver is at fault for someone else’s death can lead to a false conviction.

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Consequences of a Vehicular Manslaughter Conviction in California

Vehicular manslaughter can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the nature of the accident and the type of negligence applied to you. For example, misdemeanor charges are typically filed in cases of “ordinary negligence,” which can refer to any action that puts another person at risk of injury or death, or in cases involving infraction or misdemeanor vehicle code violations. With felony vehicular manslaughter, your actions must be considered “gross negligence,” meaning you committed an act that was very likely to cause injury or death to another person.

Ordinary negligence can apply to things like driving 10 miles over the speed limit, failing to check your blind spot while changing a lane, or if you were texting while driving. Gross negligence, on the other hand, involves more serious criminal or vehicle violations, such as driving 40 miles over the speed limit, driving while intoxicated, or committing a hit-and-run.

If you are charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, then you may face:

  • Up to one year in a North County jail
  • A fine of up to $1,000
  • Informal probation
  • Administrative penalties from the DMV, such as a license suspension

In contrast, a felony conviction for vehicular manslaughter can result in:

  • Up to two, three, or four years in a California state prison
  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • Formal probation
  • Administrative penalties from the DMV, such as a license suspension

Each of these penalties is extremely serious, and you should not trust your case to the average defense attorney. These cases require an in-depth investigation and thorough understanding of California laws. There are several factors that must be considered in a vehicle collision, and your attorney should be willing to work through every piece of evidence, statement, and law to craft a strong defense strategy.

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How jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Defend You

The crux of the prosecution’s case against you will be whether or not you acted negligently. If we can prove that you were not at fault for the collision, or that you acted as reasonably as possible given the road conditions, we may be able to have your case dismissed. While each case is different and we will need to review the circumstances of your arrest, there are several common strategies our Vista defense lawyer can employ in a vehicular manslaughter case, including:

  • You were not at fault for the collision
  • Your actions did not constitute negligence
  • You acted as reasonably as possible given the situation
  • You were not intoxicated at the time of the collision
  • You were not driving the vehicle
  • Another driver or party caused the accident
  • The arresting officers performed misconduct

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Representation From a Criminal Law Specialist

No one should face a vehicular manslaughter charge without a strong defense. At jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys, we provide thorough and detailed advocacy for defendants throughout the North County area. If you work with our Vista drunk driving defense lawyer, you can trust that your case will be handled with professionalism, diligence, and skill. We can provide in-depth legal guidance throughout your case, from explaining your rights during a trial and advocating on your behalf in negotiations with the district attorney to a trial. To speak to our legal team in a free consultation, call jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys at (760) 630-2000.

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James N. Dicks

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