Los Angeles Vehicular Manslaughter Lawyers
The crime of vehicular manslaughter occurs when a driver causes another person’s death through negligence. It carries severe penalties upon conviction – up to six years in prison in some cases. In California, vehicular manslaughter falls into one of two categories: 1) gross negligence vehicular manslaughter; or 2) misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter.
Gross Negligence Vehicular Manslaughter
To convict you of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, the prosecution must prove the following elements:
- You committed an infraction or a misdemeanor, or you committed a lawful act in a manner that could cause death, while driving a motor vehicle.
- The act you committed was dangerous to human life.
- The act was committed with gross negligence. This means you acted in a way that could cause great bodily injury or death, and in such a way as no reasonable person would act, because of the disregard for human life it entailed.
- The act you committed resulted in the death of another person. The prosecution must prove that the death of that person was the direct, probable, and natural result of your actions.
Misdemeanor Vehicular Manslaughter
The offense of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter includes the same four elements as gross negligence vehicular manslaughter with one exception. The prosecution must prove that the act was committed with ordinary negligence, as opposed to gross negligence. Ordinary negligence means failing to exercise reasonable care to prevent reasonably foreseeable harm to others.
Vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence can be charged and prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The level of the charge will be determined by law enforcement and the prosecutor, based on your criminal record and the facts of your case.
- If you are convicted of felony vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, you face up to six years in state prison, fines of up to $10,000, and formal probation.
- Upon conviction in all other cases of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, penalties include up to one year in county jail, fines of up to $1,000, and summary probation.
- Whether the offense is charged as a felony or a misdemeanor, your driver’s license will be revoked for a minimum of three years if convicted of the crime of vehicular manslaughter.
Gross negligence vehicular manslaughter may or may not involve DUI. A driver could be accused of this crime for acts of negligence, such as speeding excessively, texting while driving, or driving through a crosswalk against traffic signals. In crafting your defense strategy, our legal team will use any defenses, including the following, that apply in your case.
Not Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs
Police officers often testify to observable signs of intoxication, such as bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, and slow reaction time. These symptoms may be the result of other factors, such as illness or allergies. Field sobriety tests fail to account for physical or mental disabilities when balance, coordination, and memory are tested. Breathalyzers are not always accurate – results can vary with calibration and with body weight and temperature.
Actions Were Not Negligent
Negligence means acting in a way that a reasonable person would not have acted, or failing to do something that a reasonable person would have done. What is reasonable is left up to the jury to decide. Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers may argue that your actions were reasonable under the circumstances and did not constitute negligence under the law.
Actions Were Not the Cause of Death
The prosecution must establish a causal link between your actions and the death of another person. There can be several contributing factors to automobile accidents. We may argue that your actions were not the direct, natural, and probable cause of death.
Call Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP at (213) 688-0460 to schedule a free consultation if you have been charged with vehicular manslaughter in Los Angeles. We have a history of achieving a remarkable level of success for our clients.
Recent Case Results
- Complete Dismissal of Molestation Charges
Attorney Mark Werksman’s 29 year old client was falsely accused of molesting two neighborhood children and was subsequently charged with felony child molestation, with a significant prison sentence hanging over his head should he be convicted. Instead, at the preliminary hearing Werksman was able to convince the court to grant his client a complete dismissal of any charges.
- Decision Set Aside
Client, a college student in a faulty Title IX case, was awarded $130,000 in attorney fees.
- Probation with No Jail Time for Drug Money Laundering Charge
Wilmington man accused in New York federal court of laundering drug money through the sale of laptop computers. Mark was able to get the case transferred to federal court in Los Angeles, where he convinced the United States Attorney to reduce the charges. His client was sentenced to probation with no jail time on a misdemeanor conviction.