Los Angeles Vehicular Manslaughter Lawyers

In California, the crime of vehicular manslaughter pertains to an individual driving a vehicle, and in so doing, unintentionally, but unlawfully, taking the life of another person. The illegal driving/operation of an automobile that leads to the death of another human being may occur in the form of gross negligence, reckless driving, speeding, or drunk driving. The crime itself may be charged as a felony or misdemeanor. It may result in varying penalties in terms of jail time and fines depending on the nature of the offense. If you are facing such a charge, you need the services of an experienced vehicular manslaughter attorney.

Facing accusations of vehicular manslaughter can be troubling and daunting, to say the least. At Spolin Law P.C., we have the resources to investigate your case fully and build a strong defense on your behalf. Call us today at (310) 424-5816 or contact us online to arrange a free case evaluation with a Los Angeles violent crimes lawyer.

Legal Definition of Vehicular Manslaughter — Penal Code 192

Within California’s manslaughter statutes, Penal Code 192 sets forth the definition of vehicular manslaughter. There are different types of vehicular manslaughter under California law. These are distinguished by intent or the reason the death was caused.

Vehicular Manslaughter with Gross Negligence — Penal Code 192(c)(1)

There are several elements of the crime of gross negligence by vehicular manslaughter that a prosecutor must prove in order to achieve a conviction. These include:

  • While driving, you committed an infraction or misdemeanor, or a lawful act in such a way that could lead to death
  • You carried out the crime with gross negligence
  • The activity you engaged in was precarious to human life
  • Your action resulted in the death of another person

Without demonstrating an action of gross negligence, a prosecutor may only be able to charge you with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter. Gross negligence reaches a level of negligence beyond mere error in judgment, lack of attentiveness, or common carelessness. This type of negligence occurs when:

  • An individual acts recklessly, creating a high degree of risk to oneself and others of significant bodily injury or death; and
  • A reasonable person would have the knowledge that such actions would produce such risk.

The disregard for human life or the consequences of an action characterizes gross negligence. Under Penal Code 192(c)(1), the death caused must be the natural, likely, and direct result of your act. Stated another way, a reasonable person would understand the likely consequences of the act.

This crime is a wobbler, meaning it may be charged as a felony or misdemeanor depending on your criminal history and the circumstances of the offense.

The potential misdemeanor penalties are:

  • Misdemeanor (summary) probation
  • Maximum one year in county jail, and/or
  • Maximum fine of $1,000

The potential felony penalties are:

  • Felony (formal) probation
  • Two, four, or six years in California state prison
  • Maximum fine of $10,000

Misdemeanor Vehicular Manslaughter — Penal Code 192(c)(2)

The various elements of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter include:

  • While driving, you committed an infraction or misdemeanor, or a legal act in an illegal manner
  • The action you took under the circumstances was dangerous to the lives of others
  • The act you committed was done with ordinary negligence; and
  • The act you committed caused another person’s death

Ordinary (misdemeanor) vehicular manslaughter does not involve gross negligence. It refers to a failure to act with reasonable care to prevent harm to another that is reasonably foreseeable under the circumstances.

The penalties for ordinary (misdemeanor) vehicular manslaughter include:

  • Misdemeanor (summary) probation
  • Maximum one year in county jail, and/or
  • Maximum fine of $1,000

Vehicular Manslaughter for Financial Gain — Penal Code 192(c)(3)

This special category of vehicular manslaughter applies if:

  • While driving, you knowingly cause a collision, or participate in a collision
  • You act with the purposeful knowledge to make a false claim for insurance (for financial gain)
  • You act with the intention to defraud an insurance company or other party
  • The collision results in the death of one or more persons

Unintentional vehicular manslaughter for financial gain occurs if you accidentally kill another person while purposefully wrecking a vehicle in order to commit insurance fraud. Defending against this charge will require the services of an experienced vehicular manslaughter lawyer.

The possible penalties for the felony crime of vehicular manslaughter for financial gain include:

  • Four, six, or 10 years in California state prison, and/or
  • Maximum fine of $10,000

Defenses Against a Vehicular Manslaughter Charge

People driving cars and accidents occurring, unfortunately, go together at times. However, law enforcement and prosecutors may not always respond properly when evaluating these tragedies. Unfortunately, unjustified vehicular manslaughter charges do occur.

If you have fallen into this situation, there are a number of legal defenses available that an experienced vehicular manslaughter attorney can use on your behalf to fight against, reduce, or if possible, eliminate the charges against you. These include:

  • You were not the driver of the vehicle in question
  • Your actions did not cause the death
  • You did not engage in negligent actions
  • You acted reasonably in the face of a sudden emergency under difficult circumstances

Depending on the nature and facts of your case, one or more of the above defenses may be used by your attorney.

Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated — Penal Code 191.5

If, while driving under the influence, you accidentally cause the death of another person, you will face a charge under Penal Code 191.5. This form of unintentional vehicular manslaughter is a separate crime from that given under PC 192(c). It is only applicable to an allegation that you caused the death of another person while driving under the influence (alcohol and/or drugs).

As a wobbler, this crime carries a punishment of:

  • Maximum one year in county jail, or
  • 16 months, two years, or three years in state prison

Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is defined in Penal Code 191.5(a) and involves the killing of another person unlawfully while driving under the influence, and with gross negligence. It is a felony that incurs a maximum prison sentence of four, six, or 10 years in California state prison.

Contact Skilled California Vehicular Manslaughter Defense Attorneys

The consequences of a vehicular manslaughter conviction can be highly detrimental and life-changing. If you need legal help and a strong defense against a pending or current charge against you, allow an experienced vehicular manslaughter lawyer from our team at Spolin Law P.C. to provide intelligent and vigorous advocacy on your behalf.

Contact us today at (310) 424-5816, or fill out our confidential contact form to set up an initial, free consultation.