In California Vehicular manslaughter is defined as killing another person while “driving a vehicle” in any of four different situations.
The first is what most of us would call a simple auto accident. Automobile accidents happen every day. Most accidents would not occur if the driver of one of the vehicles was not negligent. Therefore, the law provides that if an accident occurs, and if someone is killed, the driver who caused the accident is guilty of vehicular manslaughter, as a misdemeanor. This form of vehicular manslaughter is the least serious, cannot be a felony, and is punishable by probation and up to one year in the county jail.
The second form of vehicular manslaughter is similar to the first, but is charged when the offending driver commits “gross negligence” in causing the accident. It is typically called “gross vehicular manslaughter”. This charge is a “wobbler” which means it can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. As such it is punishable by either probation with up to one year in county jail, or by a prison sentence of 2, 4 or 6 years.
The third form of vehicular manslaughter occurs when the offending driver is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, but does not commit gross negligence. This charge is a “wobbler” which means it can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. As such it is punishable by either probation with up to one year in county jail, or by a prison sentence of 16 months, 2 or 4 years.
The final form of vehicular manslaughter, often called “gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated,” occurs when the offending driver is driving under the influence, and exercises gross negligence, which is far more than ordinary negligence. This crime is the most serious, is always a felony, and is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 4, 6 or 10 years.
As you can see the potential charges which can be filed range from a simple misdemeanor to a felony which carries up to 10 years in prison. The key factors are whether or not alcohol was involved and whether or not the defendant was negligent or “grossly negligent”.
Attorney Paul Tyler practices almost exclusively in Ventura County, California and has handled numerous vehicular manslaughter cases in Ventura County. Therefore, he knows ALL of the prosecutors and ALL of the judges that may handle your case in this county.
He understands how to handle and defend vehicular manslaughter charges, and will thoroughly review all of the evidence in your case in order to develop a strong defense. Sometimes it is best to fight the case, while other times it is best to work out a favorable disposition in order to secure the minimum possible penalties.
Most importantly, apart from winning the case outright, it is always essential to determine if it is possible to get the charge reduced. Having a case reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor is greatly beneficial to a defendant.
To learn more, please call Paul Tyler at (805) 889-9000. He will answer your call personally… you will not be required to go through a secretary, paralegal or associate attorney. Call for a free consultation.