A Pennsylvania motorist who causes someone else’s death due to driving recklessly can be charged with homicide by vehicle, also known as vehicular manslaughter. This statute was created when concerns arose about the charge for people who have killed another with their vehicle falling under involuntary manslaughter did not seem severe enough.
A car accident of this nature is an incredibly traumatic event for the driver involved, and they probably feel deep remorse over what occurred. Like the emotional consequences, the legal repercussions are also devastating. Vehicular homicide is a felony offense and if you are convicted, you can be sent to prison for years. It is critical that you retain an experienced Pittsburgh criminal traffic lawyer as soon as you can. If you live in Pittsburgh, Greensburg or the surrounding area contact Worgul, Sarna & Ness Criminal Defense Attorneys for a free confidential case evaluation.
Homicide By Vehicle In Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania classifies any person who recklessly (or with gross negligence) causes the death of another person while engaged in the violation of any traffic law (except DUI) guilty of vehicular manslaughter. This charge applies not only for the death of a passenger or driver of another vehicle but also for the death of a pedestrian or bystander.
Charges of this nature are considered felonies of the third degree when the violation is the cause of death, even when the act is unintentional. This means any traffic law infraction, including failure to yield or other minor moving violations that end in tragedy could result in a vehicular manslaughter charge. It does not only apply to more severe criminal traffic violations like reckless driving or drag racing.
If you cause another person’s death while you are driving under the influence, Pennsylvania law covers that occurrence as a different, separate DUI offense. It is considered a second-degree vehicular homicide felony in the state of Pennsylvania.
Penalties for Homicide by Vehicle
Vehicular homicide is a felony of the third degree punishable by up to seven (7) years in prison and fines up to $15,000. If the homicide took place in an active work zone, you risk being sentenced with up to five additional years of jail time.
Steps to Take if You Are Charged
Homicide by vehicle is a felony in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and it is highly advised that you retain an experienced vehicular homicide lawyer near you to handle your case. He or she can review your case and understand the evidence against you in order to build a defense to reduce or dismiss these charges and alleviate the impending punishment. You want an attorney who has a strong grasp of exactly what vehicular manslaughter is, with the experience of working with the prosecution and the courts, as well as in reading and interpreting the law.
How a Greensburg or Pittsburgh Vehicular Homicide Lawyer May Help
Your attorney will develop lines of defense depending on the circumstances of your case. The prosecutor must prove you were driving recklessly when the homicide occurred and if you did not, a strong criminal defense attorney will be able to gather enough evidence to show you obeyed Pennsylvania’s traffic laws, even amidst these tragic circumstances.
If you live in the Greensburg or Pittsburgh, PA area and are facing vehicular manslaughter charges, or even DUI, reckless driving, or other traffic violation charges, don’t hesitate to reach out to us here at Worgul, Sarna, & Ness for your free confidential case evaluation.