Vehicular Manslaughter Charges in California
Two Kinds of Vehicular Manslaughter Charges
If you’re involved in a DUI incident that results in the death of another person, there are two kinds of manslaughter charges that you could face. The lesser of those two charges is vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, and the greater of the two is gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.The difference between the two charges is determined by the level of negligence that was displayed by the driver in the incident. There are a number of different factors that will be taken into consideration when determining if the driver exhibited ordinary negligence or gross negligence. Generally speaking, someone will be considered to have displayed gross negligence if they acted in a heinously reckless manner that had the high chance of causing death or injury, and if a normal person would have (or should have) known that behaving in this manner created such a risk. Anything less than this threshold will fall under ordinary negligence.
As far as determining the level of negligence, there are a number of factors that could be taken into consideration. Was the driver involved in some kind of emergency? Were their other extenuating circumstances that led to the driver behaving in the reckless manner that they did? Not only will prosecutors ask these and other questions when deciding how to charge a DUI offender who committed vehicular manslaughter, the attorney representing the offender can examine these questions when building a defense.
What Are the Penalties for Vehicular Manslaughter?
Any penalties assessed for vehicular manslaughter will be assessed in addition to any other penalties associated with different charges the offender might be facing. The severity of the penalties for the vehicular manslaughter component of those charges will be determined by whether the driver was judged to have displayed gross negligence or not.
In cases where the driver is found to have displayed ordinary negligence, the charge could be a misdemeanor or a felony. If a misdemeanor, the offender will face up to a year of jail time in a county jail. If a felony, then the offender could face anywhere from 16 months to 4 years in a state prison.
In cases where the driver is found to have displayed gross negligence, the charge will automatically be a felony. The minimum jail term that could be handed out in such a case will be four years, with the maximum jail term being ten years.
In either case, whether ordinary or gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, you will also be subject to DUI penalties. These will include a number of fines, fees, possible jail time, DUI classes, and others.