Defending Against Vehicular Manslaughter Charges

What are the penalties if I am convicted of vehicular manslaughter?

When you drive a car, you are operating over 4,000 pounds of solid steel and aluminum.  If your car collides with another vehicle or a pedestrian, the result can be catastrophic.  Nearly 40,000 people are killed in car accidents each year.  At times, individuals who cause the death of another in a car accident could face criminal charges.  Vehicular manslaughter is a very serious offense in the state of Arizona, with a conviction for this crime potentially leading to several years in prison.  Our Phoenix, Arizona vehicular manslaughter attorneys discuss the crime of vehicular manslaughter and your potential defenses below.

Vehicular Manslaughter is Charged as Manslaughter 

Arizona law does not distinguish vehicular manslaughter from the crime of manslaughter, unlike some other states.  Therefore, if you kill another with a car, you could be charged with the serious crime of manslaughter.  To convict you of the crime of manslaughter, the prosecutor must prove that you recklessly caused the death of another person with your vehicle.  The prosecutor will need to establish that you knew about and ignored a substantial and unjustifiable risk that your actions could injure or kill another, and that a reasonable person would have acted differently in the same situation. 

There are several situations that commonly lead to vehicular manslaughter charges.  Among the most common is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  If you cause an accident while driving drunk and a person is killed as a result, you could be charged with vehicular manslaughter.  Other instances that could give rise to vehicular manslaughter charges include extreme speeding, racing, or driving recklessly.

Penalties for Vehicular Manslaughter 

Vehicular manslaughter is considered a Class 2 felony, which carries a potential penalty of between three to 12.5 years in prison.  Aggravating factors could lead to an even longer sentence.  Additionally, a vehicular manslaughter conviction will result in a permanent felony record.  As a convicted felon, you will lose your right to vote and bear arms.  Your conviction will be visible to employers, loan officers, and others who may have an impact on your economic future.

Defending against a Vehicular Manslaughter Charge 

Your exact defense against the vehicular manslaughter charges you face will vary depending on the unique circumstances surrounding the accident.  If your charge involved a DUI, your defense will likely focus on challenging your blood alcohol levels or other evidence of your intoxication.  If the charge is based on reckless driving, your defense may involve challenging any evidence of your recklessness, which might include contesting your alleged speed or behavior.  Anyone facing this serious charge should contact our Phoenix vehicular manslaughter attorneys at Arizona Lawyers for an evaluation of your case.