If you or a loved one has been involved in a motor accident that resulted in the death of someone else, you or your loved one may be charged with vehicular manslaughter or vehicular homicide. Understanding what these charges mean will help you make better preparations for your defense.
What is vehicular homicide?
The terms vehicular manslaughter and vehicular homicide are often used interchangeably. However, unlike homicide, manslaughter is a charge used when the killing of the person was not intentional. The death could have resulted from reckless behavior but was not intentional. For example, if you were driving a car while intoxicated, you may have been involved in an accident that resulted in the death of someone. You may not have intended to kill the person, but the death was a result of your reckless actions. This will most likely result in a charge for vehicular manslaughter under New Jersey’s criminal code section 2C:11-5. If the accident only resulted in serious injuries, you could be charged with assault by auto. This is under section 2C:12-1c.
Requirement for negligence or recklessness
In order for a vehicular manslaughter charge or assault by auto charge to stick, the prosecution must show that you acted recklessly or that there was negligence on your part that resulted in the death or injury of the victim in the accident. In this case, reckless means that there was conscious disregard for the risks you were taking while driving.
Driving recklessly may therefore include driving under the influence or even falling asleep at the wheel after driving for 24 hours with no sleep. The jury could infer that you knew that there was a big risk of an accident occurring if you got behind the wheel to drive when you were too tired or too drunk to drive.
What to do when charged with vehicular homicide or assault
If you have been involved in an accident that resulted in the death or injury of someone else and are facing charges for vehicular assault, homicide or manslaughter, you should get in touch with a Jersey City criminal lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced attorney will help you build your defense to improve your case.