Sometimes called vehicular manslaughter, vehicular homicide is an extremely serious crime. Even though it’s not a deliberate homicide, you are still responsible for your actions behind the wheel. These cases can be tricky and often end up with additional charges, so it’s critical to consult with a NJ criminal lawyer as soon as possible to begin working on your defense.
Fatal car accidents happen for many reasons. The law defines vehicular manslaughter as when someone drives recklessly and causes the death of another person or persons. Some examples include:
• Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
• Falling asleep at the wheel
• Driving recklessly or with a conscious disregard for safety
• Speeding or weaving in and out of traffic
• Disregard of traffic signals
• Operating a vehicle with knowledge of mechanical problems
When reckless driving results in fatal car accidents — including the death of another driver, a pedestrian, a passenger in another car, or even a passenger in your own car, you can be charged with vehicular homicide.
Obviously, the penalties for vehicular homicide are harsh. However, the law takes into account the severity of the crime. They call this “gross negligence” versus “simple negligence.” You’ll likely be charged with gross negligence if you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, speeding and weaving, or failing to obey traffic signals. Gross negligence can also include truck drivers who deliberately drive without sleep and nod off at the wheel. Simple negligence includes things like looking down at the radio, adjusting the temperature, or glancing at a GPS.
In New Jersey, penalties for vehicular manslaughter can include up to 10 years in jail and fines of up to $150,000. You may also lose your drivers license. Additionally, your car accident lawyers can tell you this may just be the tip of the iceberg. The family of the deceased may also file a wrongful death suit against you — and even if you are cleared of the homicide charges, a wrongful death civil suit can still proceed.
Nobody wants to be involved in a fatal car accident. If you’re charged with vehicular manslaughter, consult with a NJ criminal lawyer as soon as possible to begin building your defense. Call us toll free at 800.923.3456 or contact us online to discuss your legal matter today. Garces, Grabler & LeBrocq is ready to help protect your future.