Maryland Lawyers For Manslaughter By Vehicle And Vehicular Homicide Cases
Accidents are just that: Accidents. No one intended for tragic circumstances to occur. And yet, in grief and anger, many times people accuse others of actively doing something (or not doing something) that caused the accident in the first place.
The Law Office of James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, LLC, treats vehicle manslaughter and vehicle homicide defendants with compassion and understanding, defending their right to a fair and just trial to give everyone their chance at a truly just outcome.
What Is ‘Manslaughter By Vehicle’ In Maryland?
When someone dies due to another’s actions, previously established Maryland common law considers the act a form of manslaughter. Most types of manslaughter charges are considered to be felonies.
Unintended deaths resulting from a defendant’s accidental actions or “failure to perform” a required legal duty are considered “involuntary” manslaughter. This type of manslaughter charge can be broken down into “gross” or “criminal” negligence.
- For criminal negligence, the law determines that the accused should have been aware but did not realize that there was a risk that someone could be hurt or die from their actions.
- For manslaughter to be gross negligence, the accused knew that someone could be placed in mortal danger due to their actions, but still chose to do it anyway.
If either charge could be “preferred,” it would be manslaughter due to criminal negligence.
For an act to be considered “vehicular” manslaughter, the other person must have died from a motor vehicle driver’s actions, either due to “negligence” or “recklessness.”
Similar to general involuntary manslaughter classifications, being accused of vehicular manslaughter can be categorized as either “gross” or “criminal” negligence, depending on whether the accused knew the actions they were taken could harm someone else.
For example, let’s say a driver knows that drag racing is dangerous, but wants to race anyway. During the race, they get into an accident in which someone dies.
That driver could be charged with reckless driving and vehicular manslaughter due to gross negligence. If convicted on both counts, the sentences could mingle and amplify in some very unpleasant ways.
Is ‘Vehicular Manslaughter’ The Same As ‘Vehicular Homicide’?
Not quite. Maryland law distinguishes between vehicular manslaughter and homicide based on how impaired the accused driver was at the time of the accident.
- Vehicular manslaughter covers deaths caused by reckless actions that are unimpaired. Choosing to speed in a school zone, drag racing so you couldn’t stop in time – these are examples of manslaughter by vehicle.
- Vehicular homicide comes into play when the driver is chemically impaired in some way due to the influence of legal or illegal drugs. A dizzy driver from a new prescription medication or an outright drunk person with a BAC over 0.08% are both examples of vehicular homicide charges.
What Penalties Could I Face From Manslaughter By Vehicle Or Vehicular Homicide Convictions?
If convicted of some form of vehicular manslaughter, a defendant should expect a fine of at least $500 at the very least and some form of jail time. In order from “least” to worst sentences:
- Vehicular manslaughter due to criminal negligence: Misdemeanor, up to 10 years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.
- Vehicular homicide while “impaired” (so BAC above 0.07%): Felony, up to 3 years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.
- Vehicular homicide while “under the influence” (BAC at or above 0.08%): Felony, up to 5 years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.
- Vehicular manslaughter due to gross negligence: Felony, up to 10 years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.
How Can A Traffic Lawyer Help Me With Vehicular Manslaughter Or Vehicular Homicide Charges?
Traffic lawyers know that the state prosecution bears the burden of proving their case – especially in manslaughter or homicide cases.
Therefore, these criminal defense lawyers make sure that every “t” is crossed and every “i” dotted. If the prosecution fails to prove any of their assertions beyond a reasonable doubt, then the defense can justify a more merciful sentence to a jury or judge.
Innocents who happen to look like (unreliable) witness descriptions can be swept up in overzealous investigations by law enforcement, eager to “bring to justice” anyone to satisfy the community’s grief and anger.
However, such actions are not justice. It’s up to an excellent criminal defense traffic lawyer to make sure a conviction does not occur in such cases.
A traffic lawyer can also question the involved law enforcement to ensure that their client’s rights were not infringed during the gathering of evidence. If they were, then that evidence becomes legally questionable.
Finally, a traffic lawyer can help the opposing counsel understand the defendant’s circumstances and perspective. Often, the defendant truly did not understand what could result from their actions or lack thereof. This realization can lead to an adjustment to the recommended sentences.
“I was in a car accident that should’ve killed me. What I didn’t know was that the State of Maryland planned to press charges. I immediately contacted the Law Offices of James E. Crawford and linked up with criminal defense attorney Mark Sobel. [The] James Crawford team guided me through the legal issues, helped me establish a good case, and ultimately helped me see the case through to a successful completion. Mark and the team were spectacular; and, I’m certain that should you find yourself in a similar condition, they’ll be spectacular for you, too.”
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