Vehicular manslaughter in California is defined as causing the death of another person while driving a vehicle, by negligently committing either an unlawful act or a lawful act that may cause death.
An example of this is when a man sends a text message while driving and causes him to kill a bicyclist which leads to his death, or a teenager speeding on the highway and crashing another vehicle causing the death of that driver.
The sentencing for vehicular manslaughter depends on whether the offense is charged as a misdemeanor or felony. Because it’s considered a “wobbler” in California, it can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor depending upon the facts of the case and your prior criminal history.
- If it were a misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, your conviction is punishable by up to one year in county jail.
- If it’s a felony, the conviction is punishable by 2, 4, or 6 years in state prison.
- If the collision was caused for financial gain, you can face a sentence of 4, 6 or 10 years in state prison.
- If you flee the scene of the crime, you face an additional term of imprisonment of 5 years in state prison.
- Last but not least, your driver’s license will be suspended for at least a year but could be for much longer depending on the facts of your case.
It’s always best to consult with an experienced Sacramento criminal attorney who can help with your specific case. There are some legal defenses that you can use to defend yourself to avoid criminal penalties. For instance, if you didn’t act with negligence or gross negligence, if your negligence did not’ cause the victim’s death and if you were facing a sudden emergency and acted reasonably under the circumstances, your conviction could get dropped.
If you are charged with vehicular manslaughter, the grief and guilt you may feel can be devastating. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you through this difficult time.