Vehicular Manslaughter

Los Angeles Vehicular Manslaughter Lawyer

Defending Vehicular Manslaughter Charges

If you’re facing vehicular manslaughter charges in Los Angeles, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of the complexities surrounding manslaughter under California law. Manslaughter, defined in CA Penal Code § 192, is the unlawful killing of a person without malice. This law distinguishes between three types:

  1. Voluntary Manslaughter: Often confused with murder, voluntary manslaughter involves a death caused in the heat of passion or during a sudden quarrel, as per CA Penal Code § 192(a). Unlike murder, it lacks malice and premeditation.

  2. Involuntary Manslaughter: This occurs when a person unintentionally causes someone’s death while committing a non-felony crime, as outlined in CA Penal Code § 192(b). Involuntary manslaughter is characterized by the absence of both malice and deliberate intention to harm.

  3. Vehicular Manslaughter: Specific to deaths involving motor vehicles, this type of manslaughter is distinct from involuntary manslaughter, as it exclusively pertains to vehicular incidents.

Understanding these distinctions is vital for anyone navigating the legal system in Los Angeles with a vehicular manslaughter charge. Legal representation specialized in this area can provide essential guidance and defense.


What Is Vehicular Manslaughter?

Vehicular manslaughter, also referred to as “vehicular homicide,” is a serious offense that occurs when a person unlawfully causes the death of another while driving a vehicle and is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In California, this crime is categorized into two distinct types, as outlined in California Penal Code § 191.5:

  1. Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated (§ 191.5(a)): This more severe form occurs when the driver acts with “gross negligence,” meaning there is a reckless disregard for human life. The driver’s actions go beyond ordinary carelessness, inattention, or mistake in judgment.

  2. Standard Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated (§ 191.5(b)): This type involves ordinary negligence, where the driver causes another’s death through negligent actions, error, or failure in judgment while driving under the influence.

Both offenses are directly related to drunk driving and carry significant legal consequences, including lengthy prison sentences and substantial fines. The distinction between the two rests on the degree of negligence displayed by the driver at the time of the incident. Understanding these specific legal nuances is crucial, especially for those facing such charges or involved in legal proceedings related to vehicular manslaughter.

Vehicular Manslughter: Intoxication And DUIs

Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, as per California law, is distinct from involuntary manslaughter primarily because it involves two additional elements: the use of a motor vehicle and impairment due to alcohol or drugs. This crime, as defined under CA Penal Code 191.5(b), may include an act of negligence, but it does not encompass “gross negligence.” To secure a conviction for this offense, the prosecution must demonstrate:

  1. Operation of a Vehicle Under Influence: The accused operated a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, as defined in California Vehicle Code §23152.

  2. Commitment of an Unlawful or Dangerous Act: The accused simultaneously committed an unlawful or dangerous act, which is not classified as a felony.

  3. Action Causing Death: The accused’s action led to the death of another person, without malice or premeditation.

Negligence, in this context, refers to a careless act that a reasonable person would not have performed, or a failure to do something that a reasonable person would have done.

Charges and Penalties: Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances, including prior criminal convictions. Misdemeanor charges may lead to a $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail. Felony convictions can result in 16 months, two, or four years in prison, plus additional time for each surviving victim with injuries, and a $1,000 fine.

Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated: Under CA Penal Code §191.5(a), gross vehicular manslaughter occurs when a driver, under the influence, causes death through an act of gross negligence, indicating a blatant disregard for human life. This is a felony offense with penalties ranging from four to ten years in prison, or potentially a life sentence for those with prior DUI or manslaughter convictions.

Vehicular Manslaughter Without DUI: According to CA Penal Code § 192(c), vehicular manslaughter does not always involve DUI. It can include negligent acts like speeding, texting while driving, or running a red light, which do not involve drug or alcohol impairment. Furthermore, this code section also covers incidents where a driver causes an accident for financial gain, which falls under automobile insurance fraud laws.

In summary, vehicular manslaughter in California is a serious crime with varying degrees of negligence and corresponding penalties, ranging from fines and jail time to long prison sentences, depending on the specific circumstances and the driver’s prior history.



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