Criminal homicide constitutes Vehicular Homicide when a person causes the death of another by driving a motor vehicle recklessly. Vehicular homicide is a very serious offense with very serious consequences that can greatly impact the rest of your life.
In many instances, the defendant is first charged with Assault by Auto if the victim did not immediately die from the accident. If the victim is first injured but later dies as a result of those injuries the charges will be upgraded to vehicular homicide.
The following are situations that may give rise to the inference that the defendant was driving recklessly:
- The defendant fell asleep while driving
- The defendant was driving after having been without sleep for a period of more than 24 consecutive hours
- The defendant was driving while intoxicated (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50)
- The defendant was talking on the cell phone
- The defendant was texting while driving
In New Jersey, in order to be found guilty of vehicular homicide, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following elements:
- The defendant was driving a motor vehicle
- The defendant caused the death of the victim; and
- The defendant caused such death by driving the motor vehicle recklessly.
In other words, but for the defendant driving a motor vehicle recklessly, the victim would not have died.
Vehicular homicide is generally a crime of the second degree, punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000.
Vehicular homicide is a crime of the second degree: If the defendant was operating the motor vehicle while under the influence (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50) or if the defendant was operating the motor vehicle while his driver's license was suspended or revoked for violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50. The term of imprisonment shall include the imposition of a minimum term. The minimum term shall be fixed at, or between, one-third and one-half of the sentence imposed by the court or three years, whichever is greater, during which the defendant shall be ineligible for parole.
Vehicular homicide becomes a first degree offense if the defendant was operating the motor vehicle in a school zone while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Upon conviction, the defendant's license to operate a motor vehicle will be suspended for a period of between 5 years and life, commencing upon completion of any prison sentence imposed. In addition, you will be required to forfeit the automobile used in the commission of the offense. The only way to avoid this is to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that it would be a serious hardship to your family and that hardship outweighs the need to deter this conduct. Successfully arguing this is best left up to an experienced criminal defense attorney. At LS&P Lawyers we will elicit evidence, testimony and any other information necessary to convince the court to refrain from civil forfeiture.
If you have been charged with Assault by Auto or Vehicular Homicide, you need a lawyer on your side. At LS&P Lawyers we are skilled advocates ready to put up an aggressive defense on your behalf. Contact our offices 24/7 to schedule a consultation. Our clients are our priority and we will give your case the attention it deserves.