Gross Negligence Vehicular Manslaughter
More and more, I'm seeing vehicular manslaughter cases filed in the Van Nuys Court based on accidents occurring in the San Fernando Valley. This court pretty much controls the jurisdiction as far as a vehicular manslaughter case if the case occurs in one of the cities within the Valley.
When they file a case as a criminal case related to driving on the road, it's typically filed as vehicular manslaughter, a felony, under California Penal Code 192(c) VC. You could be facing up to six years in prison.
This usually occurs when a death occurs on the road, and what the prosecutors are going to need to prove in the Van Nuys court is gross behavior by the driver – gross negligence where somebody is just driving so recklessly that it can't be considered just a simple accident because accident cases are not crimes. If you get in an accident if somebody dies, typically, that's not going to be charged as a crime.
But, if, on the other hand, you're racing another vehicle and get in an accident and kill somebody, that's going to be charged as vehicular manslaughter likely. As a felony, you'll be facing six years in prison. It could also be set as a second-degree if, during the racing, they can determine that you were drunk on alcohol or some other drug that affected your ability to operate a motor vehicle safely.
So, the court takes these vehicular manslaughter cases very seriously. When the prosecutors decide what they're going to file in these vehicular manslaughter cases, they're looking at:
- How bad was the conduct?
- What was the reason the death occurred?
- Are there any other factors that contributed to the death?
- Did the person that died contribute to their death?
- Were there other vehicles on the road that were involved?
- Was there some defect in the road that contributed to the death?
These are all considerations the prosecutor will consider when assessing one of these vehicular manslaughter cases. Our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys will review this topic in more detail below in this article.
Factors that Determine a Vehicular Manslaughter Case
They have four choices in general when it comes to a vehicular manslaughter case where someone's driving recklessly, and another person dies. One, they could consider it an accident and file nothing criminally, and then the parties can deal with it civilly if they think there was some negligence on the part of one of the drivers or more of the drivers.
They can file the case as an involuntary vehicular manslaughter case, a misdemeanor. It had to do with simple negligence – some road violation – speeding, making an illegal left turn – and death results. Again, that's a misdemeanor. You'd be facing up to a year in the county jail. It's much less severe than a vehicular manslaughter case. The third option is to file a claim as a felony vehicular manslaughter case.
In that circumstance, as indicated above, they're going to have to prove gross negligence on the driver's part. So, usually, when I see these cases filed – someone driving fast, running red lights, driving recklessly, weaving in and out of traffic, racing – these are the type of cases that are going to trigger a vehicular manslaughter filing and the person potentially looking at six years in state prison.
The final choice the prosecutors have is to file the case as a second-degree murder case, and I've seen this more and more as people become aware of the dangers of drinking and driving and causing deaths, racing, going over 100 miles an hour – all sorts of different things that people are doing on the road.
Criminal Lawyer Familiar with the Court
But if a death results, the prosecutors, the police, and judges will be looking to blame somebody for that death. So, you want to be real careful out there, and if you have one of these cases where you're charged with vehicular manslaughter or second-degree murder or both, they're going to need to get an attorney who knows the Van Nuys court.
One who knows the filing deputies and the head prosecutors there because, in my experience, there are typically some mitigating circumstances in these vehicular manslaughter cases that the prosecutors have not considered, and it's up to the defense attorney to put those in front of them.
It's up to the defense attorneys to show the prosecutors the mitigating circumstances that make the case either not rise to the level of a vehicular manslaughter case, or if it is an excellent vehicular manslaughter filing, the person shouldn't go to prison. Try to get a probationary sentence.
So, there are all sorts of different things that can happen. When there's a whole range of charges that could be filed and sentences that can be imposed, that's when the best criminal defense attorneys in the Van Nuys courthouse are necessary to achieve a result that you could live with. A result that protects your record, freedom, career, and family.
So, if you have one of these vehicular manslaughter cases, give me a call. We'll sit down. We'll go over everything. We'll talk about it, and when you leave the office, you'll leave with a strategy in place. One that considers your life, your version of events, and gets down to the nitty-gritty of defending you and helping you with your vehicular manslaughter case.