Vehicular Manslaughter in Virginia
Vehicular homicide or vehicular manslaughter in Virginia not only may result in large fines, it could land you in prison for 10 years or more! If you have been charged with vehicular manslaughter in Virginia, then this is not the time to represent yourself or rely on a public defender. You need the kind of representation that only an experienced vehicular manslaughter attorney like Jonathan Fisher can provide.
What is Vehicular Manslaughter or Vehicular Homicide in Virginia?
In Virginia Vehicular Manslaughter or Vehicular Homicide arises when one person causes the death of another while driving under the influence of drug or alcohol in violation of Virginia’s DUI laws. So, if for example, you drank too much and, on your way from the bar, you hit someone crossing the street. The person you hit dies at the scene from injuries that you caused. If alcohol or drugs were a factor, you will be likely facing vehicular manslaughter charges in Virginia.
Alcohol or Drugs as a Factor in Virginia Vehicular Manslaughter Charges
Most vehicular manslaughter lawyers will tell you that the Virginia vehicular homicide statute says that, “under the influence” means that the driver was observably impaired by alcohol or drugs in the driver’s “manner, disposition, speech, muscular movement, general appearance or behavior.” This does not necessarily mean that the driver’s blood alcohol levels exceeded the maximum allowed level.
Provable Causation in Virginia Vehicular Homicide Cases
To be convicted of vehicular manslaughter in Virginia, the prosecutor will need to show proof that the driver charged with vehicular manslaughter was intoxicated and that that intoxication was the legal cause of the death. Therefore, it is vital to retain an experienced Virginia vehicular homicide lawyer to attack the evidence against you.
Virginia Vehicular Manslaughter Penalties
The consequences of a Virginia vehicular manslaughter conviction vary on the particular circumstances of your cases. However, the possible penalties are:
- Vehicular manslaughter. Vehicular manslaughter is a class 5 felony. A conviction for vehicular homicide in Virginia can mean up to ten years in prison and a maximum $2,500 in fines.
- Aggravated vehicular manslaughter. You may face enhanced penalties for vehicular manslaughter in Virginia if the court finds that your conduct was “so gross, wanton and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life.” Aggravated vehicular manslaughter (also called “aggravated involuntary manslaughter”) carries one to 20 years in prison and up to $2,500 in fines.
Any person convicted of vehicular manslaughter in Virginia will also face permanent revocation of their driver’s license.
Vehicular Homicide Charges in Virginia
a. 18.2-32 – Murder.
An individual can be charged with murder due to actions related to driving a motor vehicle or water craft. In short, a vehicle can be considered a weapon. Such actions could theoretically be considered First or Second-Degree Murder.
b. 18.2-35 – Voluntary Manslaughter.
Likewise, facts could support use of a vehicle in a “heat of passion” related homicide.
c. 18.2-36 – Involuntary Manslaughter.
Most vehicular related charges of involuntary manslaughter involve actions alleged under 18.2-36 (3) (b). That would be accidently killing another during the improper performance of a lawful act. An example of Cheung vs. Com. In that case the Court of Appeals found that deliberate failure of a driver to disregard signs of drowsiness is evidence of a reckless disregard for human life.
d. 18.2-36.1 (A) – DUI Manslaughter.
(1) Unintentionally (2) causing the death of another (3) while driving under the influence. Class 5 Felony punishable by up to 10 years in the Department of Corrections. If charged with this offense it is extremely important to have a DUI specialist. The Commonwealth must prove that the defendant was actually under the influence (not just a showing of a 0.08 or higher BAC), and that there was a causal connection between the intoxication and the death of another person. The arguments can become extremely technical and complicated. Revocation of driving privileges is mandatory as well.
e. 18.2-36.1 (B) – Aggravated DUI Manslaughter.
(1) Unintentionally (2) causing the death of another (3) while driving under the influence (4) when the accused’s conduct shows a reckless disregard for human life. This is an Unclassified Felony punishable by up to 20 years in the Department of Corrections. Revocation of driving privileges is mandatory as well. Aggravating factors can vary and the cases are fact specific. A DUI specialist is a must in these cases.
f. 18.2-36.2 (A) and (B) – Boating Under the Influence Manslaughter (and aggravated).
The elements and punishments while operating a boat and committing these offenses are nearly identical. As are the defenses. A DUI specialist should be consulted and retained.