Serving Scranton, Tunkhannock, and Wyoming County
When the state accuses a person of Homicide by Vehicle, it is a charge that means a person unintentionally killed another individual using a vehicle. Homicide typically involves conduct intended to kill a person, but in the case of Homicide by Vehicle, it occupies a particular place in the homicide and manslaughter crimes of the Pennsylvania rimes code. You should seek the aid of an experienced criminal defense attorney if the state has charged you with Homicide by Vehicle.
Definition of Vehicular Homicide
The Pennsylvania criminal code defines Homicide by Vehicle as killing another individual through the reckless or grossly negligent driving of a vehicle in a manner that breaks the Commonwealth’s or municipality’s traffic laws. The Commonwealth must not only prove that someone violated traffic laws in causing another’s death, but that the conduct showed recklessness or gross negligence. Essentially, prosecutors have to prove four things beyond a reasonable doubt. First, the defendant drove a motor vehicle in a reckless or grossly negligent manner. Second, the actions of the defendant caused someone else’s death. Third, the victim’s death occurred while the defendant was breaking a traffic law. Finally, the defendant’s violation of the traffic law caused the victim’s death.
Penalties If Convicted Of Vehicular Homicide
Simple vehicular homicide may result in penalties that include as much as seven years in jail, up to $15,000 in fines and a potential three-year suspension of one’s driver’s license. If jail time is required, the length of imprisonment will depend on several factors including whether the person was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, previous convictions for vehicular homicide, prior convictions for DUI, and whether the driver at fault was on probation or parole.
There are several possible situations for which the severity of penalties may increase dramatically. If the conduct causes a fatality in a work zone, the sentence may increase by as much as five years. There are additional aggravating factors, such as causing someone’s death by failure to pull over to the side for an emergency vehicle or by passing such a vehicle on the edge of the road in an unsafe manner. Additionally, causing someone’s death by driving recklessly while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is covered by a different provision of the Pennsylvania criminal code and may result in mandatory sentencing penalties. The criminal code requires a mandatory minimum prison term of three years, with an additional three years for each consecutive death.
There are many evidentiary issues involved in defending a charge of vehicular homicide. The Commonwealth’s burden of proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant’s conduct was reckless or grossly negligent is a difficult one. A charge of vehicular homicide is not something you should ignore, and getting an attorney at the outset may help you end with a favorable result.
The Peters Law Firm provides effective criminal defense against vehicular homicide charges in the Northeastern Pennsylvania area. In the Scranton area, contact us at (570) 963-1610, Tunkhannock and Wyoming County at (570) 836-0700 or throughout Northeast Pennsylvania at our main office in Clarks Summit by calling (570) 585-0707 or by visiting us.