Here’s what you need to know if you’ve incurred vehicular manslaughter charges
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, almost 43,000 people were killed on American highways and roads in 2021. Some collisions are genuine accidents, but others are caused by individuals who are illegally operating their vehicles. Accidents can be deeply distressing for all parties, and facing vehicular manslaughter charges can be upsetting and stressful.
What are vehicular manslaughter charges?
Involuntary manslaughter occurs when a person unintentionally kills another person due to negligence or an unlawful act. When this happens while driving illegally, the person who caused the accident may incur vehicular manslaughter charges. For example, this may occur if a death happens during a traffic violation such as running a red light.
Is it a misdemeanor or a felony?
Vehicular manslaughter charges fall under Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 90, Section 24G. Depending on the circumstances, this can result in either a misdemeanor or a felony. A felony charge involves driving recklessly on a public road, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and causing the death of another person.
There are two ways in which a misdemeanor charge can occur: first, if someone is driving recklessly or negligently and causes the death of another person, this is considered a misdemeanor. The law requires proof that the person was driving in a way that put the lives of others at a high risk. Examples of driving recklessly include speeding at an extremely high rate, tailgating, cutting other drivers off, or weaving in and out of lanes. In this case, the prosecution is not required to prove that the driver was under the influence; they only need proof of driving in a way that created a safety risk.
The second situation that incurs a misdemeanor charge involves driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs – even if the driver is obeying traffic laws and not driving negligently – and causing the death of another person. This occurs rarely, as most cases of substance-impaired driving usually result in some form of recklessness.
What are the penalties for vehicular manslaughter charges?
If the defendant incurs misdemeanor charges, they are faced with a minimum of 30 days in jail, fines, and a 15-year license revocation. The maximum jail sentence for this offense is 2.5 years. If the defendant is charged with a felony, the penalty is a minimum of 2.5 years in jail, fines, and a 15-year license revocation. In this case, the maximum jail sentence is 15 years.
The next step: Hiring a defense attorney
If you find yourself facing vehicular manslaughter charges, you will want an attorney who understands Massachusetts state laws and can help you formulate a defense. If you feel you weren’t acting negligently and are innocent, you need an attorney to help prove the facts of your case.