What Is Unintentional Vehicular Manslaughter?

A Look at the Difference Between Unintentional Vehicular Manslaughter and Vehicular Homicide

When faced with criminal charges like unintentional vehicular manslaughter (also known as vehicular homicide), it can feel paralyzing and incredibly overwhelming for you, and even your loved ones. Regardless of the circumstance, if you have been charged with vehicular homicide, it is critical to hire an experienced and capable criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

If you are in the Worcester area, the criminal defense team at Murphy & Rudolf, LLP will be able to help assess your case and offer the solutions you need to protect your future. Contact us today for a free consultation: (508) 570-3037.

The following is an overview to better help you understand the different types of charges involving vehicular manslaughter.

Massachusetts Statutes Regarding Unintentional Vehicular Manslaughter

Though the term “unintentional vehicular manslaughter” is commonplace, the official terms used by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to describe unintentionally killing or causing harm are:

  • Involuntary Manslaughter, and
  • Vehicular/Motor Homicide/Manslaughter

Involuntary manslaughter is definitely a valid charge that may come about due to unintentional circumstances. However, when discussing a crime or accident involving a vehicle(s) and the death of another individual, it is more appropriate to use the term unintentional vehicular manslaughter/homicide.

Massachusetts Statutes on Involuntary Vehicular Manslaughter

The State’s laws on vehicular manslaughter are indicated in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90, Section 24G. Statutes and laws are not written in layman’s terms, and much can vary from case to case, so it is always recommended to ask a knowledgeable attorney about your specific case. However, resources like Murphy & Rudolf, LLP’s website and FindLaw can help provide you an introductory overview of what is entailed.

Involuntary vehicular homicide crimes can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. How an individual is charged greatly depends on the context and circumstances of the incident, and if drugs or alcohol were involved in the crime. To better understand this, take a look at this table below, courtesy of FindLaw.


  • Defendant was operating a motor vehicle;
  • On a “public way”, or where members of the general public have a right of access or are business “invitees”;
  • Defendant was driving recklessly and while under the influence of alcohol or drugs and OR:
  • Caused the death of another person.


  • Defendant was operating recklessly or negligently so as to endanger the lives and safety of the public; and
  • Directly caused the death of another person.Defendant was operating a motor vehicle;
  • On a “public way”, or where members of the general public have a right of access or are business “invitees”;
  • Defendant was under the influence of alcohol, drugs or intoxicating substances;

Penalties for Vehicular Manslaughter/Homicide:

In Massachusetts, if found guilty, you can face penalties of fines and jail time including:

  • Minimum of 30 days in jail or up to two and a half years in the House of Correction for misdemeanor offenses
  • Fines ranging from $300-$3000 for misdemeanor offenses
  • Minimum mandatory one-year sentence in the House of Correction for felony offenses
  • Maximum vehicular manslaughter jail time of 15 years in the state facility for felony offenses
  • Fines of no more than $15,000 for felony offenses

Learn more about how Murphy & Rudolf, LLP’s Worcester criminal defense team can help you with involuntary vehicular manslaughter charges. You can call (508) 570-3037 or contact us online today for a free consultation.

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