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Vehicular Manslaughter Cases in San Diego When Drugs Are Involved
The amount of drug and alcohol related car accidents are on the rise in San Diego. Many of those accidents result in a fatality. The fatality may occur when the driver kills a pedestrian or a passenger in the vehicle. If someone dies at the scene of the accident or at a later time as a result of the accident, then you can be charged with vehicular homicide or manslaughter in San Diego.
In San Diego, you can face vehicular manslaughter charges if your behavior causes the death of another person. If you intentionally kill another person, then you will face charges for homicide. However, when you unintentionally cause the death of another person, then you are more likely to face charges for manslaughter. Based on this reasoning the unintentional killing of another person while operating a motor vehicle will result in vehicular manslaughter charges. This means that the prosecution does not need to prove that you knew someone would have died as a result of your behavior. This is not premeditated behavior or an intentional act that would require the prosecution prove mental state. The only mental state element will be based on the negligent operation of the vehicle. Often times a forensic toxicologist will be called in order to provide the jury an understanding of your behavioral patterns and potential intoxication prior to the accident.
Vehicular manslaughter, as defined in California Penal Code 192(c) PC, occurs when you meet every element described below:
1) Drive a motor vehicle;
2) While engaging in unlawful and/or negligent conduct; and
3) Cause the death of another person.
As the elements of the charges exist there can be a variety of different ways that can result in criminal charges being brought for vehicular manslaughter. Vehicular manslaughter is considered a wobbler offense and can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. The prosecution will have to focus on the severity of conduct that was unlawful which would be whether a jury can determine if the driving could be considered ordinary or gross negligence.
What is the variations of negligence in a Vehicular Manslaughter case in San Diego?
The worst type of negligence in a vehicular manslaughter case is gross negligence. On the contrary, the minimal type of negligence that exists in a vehicular manslaughter case is ordinary negligence.
How does Negligence Occur in a Vehicular Manslaughter case in San Diego?
Negligence will happen when there is a duty of care owed to others that has been disregarded. The most important duty is to care for any driver who drives on our public roadways here in San Diego either on the Interstate I-5 or I-8 or I-94 or I-56 where a potential accident can occur. This duty extends to pedestrians and workers that are present as well along our public roadways that may not be driving at the time. The proximity of harm is not limited to just where an accident may occur on a roadway, but foreseeable harm extends to areas that result from driving in a reckless disregard for others off the roadways as well. With our duty to be mindful and cautious of those around us in our proximity, we must obey all traffic laws and operate out vehicles in a safe and protected manner. Negligence is easy to show when once deviates from the reasonable standard out society places on us while we drive. Often times we get clients who have suspended licenses for DUIs and other traffic violations and the prosecution uses this information to enhance punishment given the fact the disregard to public safety has been an ongoing behavior before any accident occurred. The prosecution will rely heavily on an individual’s driving record to prove their case for negligence even if the actual accident did not result due to the wanton disregard for others.
What are other types of Negligence in Vehicular Manslaughter cases in San Diego?
Gross negligence is another type of negligence that occurs when an individual has the knowledge that their driving will result in a high risk of death or great bodily injury to others. This is often the more serious type of negligence because it is based on the mental state of the defendant where he must have known or failed to acknowledge that his behavior would result in the high risk of death and/or bodily injury to another. The is not mere carelessness like ordinary negligence. Often times gross negligence will be filed as a felony charge because of the seriousness of the injuries involved and the blatant disregard for human life. Most people that fall within this category are under the influence at the time of the accident and have no knowledge of the consequences of their actions until they are sober. This is the most serious type of conduct that can result in a vehicular manslaughter charge in San Diego.
This is a subjective test to differentiate between gross negligence and ordinary negligence. However, the reasonableness of the conduct would be based on the circumstances surrounding the actual accident. This is important to make sure the prosecution understands the dangerousness of certain roadways and the frequency of accidents within certain areas.
What are the Penalties for getting into an Accident where someone Dies as a result?
This depends on several factors and these charges under vehicular manslaughter may be brought as either a felony or misdemeanor. Prior criminal records involving similar conduct or other serious conduct will typically elevate a misdemeanor charge into a felony charge. Also, mitigating factors may reduce a felony charge to a misdemeanor charge as well. This is where we spend most of the time as San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyers providing mitigating documentation to the prosecution to get the charges reduced or dismissed.
Misdemeanor Vehicular Manslaughter will occur if your conduct is considered ordinary negligence. Unlike felony cases where the conduct would be gross negligence where one has shown a wanton disregard for the safety of others. Most people will not go to jail on a misdemeanor offense. However, there may be serious DMV consequences as result of a conviction for vehicular manslaughter. Most felony cases will result in a prison or formal probation commitment. Often times the DMV will revoke the individuals privilege to drive after a conviction is finalized.
It is important to know that if you have a prior DUI and you are under the influence at the time of driving for the vehicular manslaughter charge, then you will be charged with first-degree murder. The minimum sentence for a first-degree murder conviction is 25 years in prison to life.
What DMV consequences will you face as a result of a Vehicular Manslaughter conviction in San Diego?
These convictions often result at a minimum license suspension. Often times the suspension period will last one year. However, if the conduct is serious the license suspension period may be longer or will result in a negligent operator hearing with Driver Safety at the DMV. The hearing officer can revoke an individual’s privilege to drive if the conduct falls within what they would consider gross negligence. It is important to hire a lawyer who is competent in fighting the DMV proceedings at the negligent operator hearing as well as fighting the criminal proceedings in court.
Fighting Vehicular Manslaughter Charges in San Diego
If you are facing serious charges in San Diego, attorney Vik Monder should be at the top of your list. Attorney Vik Monder has extensive experience fighting the DMV and the prosecutor on cases that involve vehicular manslaughter. Furthermore, he is the leading legal analyst on this subject matter for local news networks. Feel free to contact attorney Vik Monder to discuss the details in your case at 619-405-0063 or visit www.monderlaw.com