I get these cases all the time and a lot of times they’re filed as criminal cases, so people are asking well if it was just an accident and I didn’t do it on purpose, how could they possibly charge me with a crime? And that relates to a number of different factors.
Involuntary Manslaughter Charges
First off, the San Fernando Valley courts and the prosecutors and the police are going to look at what you were doing when this accident occurred that caused a death. If you’re negligent in how you handled things, then you have a chance to be charged with what’s called involuntary manslaughter, under California Penal Code 192b, which means you did some sort of an illegal act, it was negligent and you caused the death of another person. That usually falls under the misdemeanor category of involuntary manslaughter.
I had a case recently where a client early in the morning made a left-hand turn and didn’t see a motorcycle coming and the motorcycle hit his car, and unfortunately, the motorcycle driver passed away.
It took these guys months to evaluate the case and they finally decided right before the statute of limitations ran to file an involuntary manslaughter criminal case against him — sent him into the San Fernando courthouse and we had to deal with it.
What I ended up doing was getting a traffic reconstruction expert to go over everything — go to the scene and write me a report, and in the report, they basically said it wasn’t my client’s fault. Even though this was a tragedy, my client couldn’t see the motorcycle coming.
There was a car parked along the curb blocking my client’s view and it really wasn’t his fault. He also determined the motorcyclist was going too fast for conditions. So, we ended up getting that case dismissed.
We didn’t have to go to jury trial once the prosecutors saw that accident reconstruction report, they realized it wasn’t the guys fault and their own accident reconstruction report was weak and really wasn’t based on anything, and a lot of the conclusions that the officer used to base his opinion that it was my client’s fault were just simply false or weak.
So, when its an accident, you have the best chance of avoiding a criminal conviction. You just made a mistake; you did something stupid or maybe it really wasn’t your fault and you can make that argument.
But when you’re driving recklessly and somebody dies, now you start to get into an area where the prosecutors can charge vehicular manslaughter. I’ve even seen them charge murder recently in a lot of these cases where people are speeding like 100 miles an hour and going through red lights and they end up killing somebody.
If you’re driving with alcohol or any other drug in your system and you kill somebody, you can definitely expect to be charged with second degree murder, because that’s just how the prosecutors throughout the county and specifically in the San Fernando Valley, are charging cases where people are drinking and driving and killing people.
Even if you have drugs and you’re driving and you end up causing an accident that kills another person, expect to be charged with murder. Obviously, that’s a very serious charge.
Vehicular Manslaughter Charges
The dividing line between being charged with murder and vehicular manslaughter is sometimes very subjective and also very murky. One has to do with you being reckless on the road and causing a death. That’s usually going to be a vehicular manslaughter charge. That’s gross negligence and that’s really the standard when it comes to charging somebody with a felony vehicular manslaughter charge.
On the other hand, if you’re acting with wanton disregard for human life — that’s the standard to get your cranked up to that murder charge — then they can charge you with second degree murder. You’d be looking at fifteen to life potentially.
So obviously, you want to be very careful when it comes to driving on the road, but if you’re being charged with second degree murder, vehicular manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, you’re going to want to get an attorney like me who’s been doing this for twenty-five years and knows what a case is worth.
Knows what it takes to investigate these type of cases. Get accident reconstruction reports; use your common sense and fight against the prosecutors because sometimes in these cases where somebody’s charged with vehicular manslaughter, murder, involuntary manslaughter, the prosecutors aren’t being reasonable.
They’re not looking at both sides of the story. They’re only looking at a one-sided, slanted version by the police where the police didn’t fully investigate the case, use weak accident reconstruction expert and drew conclusions based on faulty facts.
Retain a Criminal Attorney in San Fernando Valley
So, you’re going to need somebody like me to really dig into things, look at it, make the right decisions for you so you can end up with the best possible result. Nobody wants to get railroaded into some vehicular manslaughter or murder charge. You will want to be able to defend yourself.
Make the right decisions. Make the right moves because sometimes you are responsible for that death. The issue is going to be where are you responsible? What type of charge are you going to have to swallow and most importantly, what is your punishment going to be?
These are things that have got to be talked about with a professional — an attorney who’s been down this road before, had success and knows what it takes to get you out of the criminal justice system as soon as possible.
Hedding Law Firm
16000 Ventura Blvd #1208
Encino, CA 91436
Categorised in: Criminal Defense