In Massachusetts, if you fatally injure another person while recklessly or negligently operating a motor vehicle, you may be charged with vehicular homicide. The severity of the charges you’re facing will be largely dependent on the unique circumstances of your case. For example, if you were committing a minor, misdemeanor offense when the accident occurred – such as speeding – you will likely be charged with a misdemeanor offense. If you were intoxicated at the time, however, the charge may be elevated to a felony offense. A skilled MA criminal defense attorney can help you determine the next steps if you are facing these serious charges.
Misdemeanor Vehicular Homicide
Although serious, penalties for this charge are dramatically different from that of a felony offense. If you are charged with a misdemeanor offense, you may face the following penalties and fines:
- Mandatory 30 days in jail
- Up to two-and-a-half years in jail
- Up to $3,000 in fines
- Up to a 15 year license loss
Vehicular Homicide Involving Drugs or Alcohol
If you kill someone while driving drunk, you don’t need to have been driving recklessly to get convicted of vehicular homicide. However, fatal accidents caused by a drunk or drugged driver typically involve some level of reckless driving. If you were intoxicated and driving recklessly when the fatal accident occurred, you will likely be charged with a felony offense. The penalties for this type of crime include:
- Mandatory one year in jail
- Up to 15 years in a state prison
- Up to $5,000 in fines
- Minimum license suspension of 15 years
To secure a conviction, the prosecution must prove that you were above the legal limit at the time of the accident. If they cannot do that, beyond a reasonable doubt, a felony charge is not likely. This is where having a skilled MA OUI attorney can make all the difference in the world.
If you kill someone while driving drunk or drugged, you may also be charged with vehicular manslaughter, which is essentially the same as vehicular homicide involving drugs or alcohol, but the prison penalties are more severe. If convicted of vehicular manslaughter, you will face a mandatory five year prison sentence, and you could be behind bars for up to 20 years. Fines are also increased, at a max of up to $25,000.
As you can see, vehicular homicide and manslaughter charges are quite serious. Whether you’re in jail for 30 days or in prison for 20 years may rest largely in the skill and experience of your legal counsel. Don’t make the mistake of hiring the wrong attorney when it comes to vehicular homicide. Remember, an intent to kill is not necessary for a successful conviction. The prosecution only has to prove that your reckless or negligent driving resulted in the death of another. Continue reading