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Vehicular Manslaughter (Misdemeanor or Felony)

Vehicular Manslaughter and Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated (Penal Code sections 191.5 and 192(c))

The most common charge of vehicular manslaughter occurs when someone kills another person due to his or her driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This type of vehicular manslaughter is prosecuted under Penal Code section 191.5, subdivisions (a) and (b). Under California law, vehicular manslaughter may also be charged under Penal Code section 192(c) when a driver kills another person as a result of his or her unlawful or grossly negligent driving or driving in a manner meant to procure financial gain. An Orange County vehicular manslaughter lawyer can assist you with fighting either of these types of charges.

Depending on the charge, circumstances, and the driver's criminal history, vehicular manslaughter may be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony and can carry up to a ten year sentence in state prison on the first charge. Whether you are charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter or more serious felony charges of vehicular manslaughter, you need to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. Depending on the circumstances of the crime and your criminal background, the charges can often be mitigated or even defeated. An experienced criminal defense attorney understands the requisite elements of the crime and is able to investigate whether the prosecution has the evidence to prove that all of those elements were satisfied. If the elements are not satisfied, an experienced vehicular manslaughter lawyer in Orange County can work to get the charges dismissed. If the charges stand up to scrutiny, an experienced attorney can work for a conviction on a lesser offense or to mitigate the sentence.

I am an experienced criminal defense attorney with proven results and I promise to vigorously defend your rights to the full extent of the law. I have successfully defended hundreds of clients, including those charged with vehicular manslaughter. Contact me at any time to set up a confidential consultation with an Orange County vehicular manslaughter attorney without charge. I will work with you and your family to provide a fee structure that best suits your circumstances.

Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated (Penal Code section 191.5)

An intoxicated driver, whether under the influence of alcohol or drugs (even prescription drugs), who kills another person as a result of his or her driving but without gross negligence may be charged with vehicular manslaughter under Penal Code section 191.5(b). If the driver is not only driving while intoxicated, but also grossly negligent, he or she may charged with the more serious charge of gross vehicular manslaughter under Penal Code section 191.5(a). The difference between the two charges is that under section 191.5(a), the intoxicated driver was driving in a manner that amounted to more than ordinary carelessness, inattention, or mistake. In other words, the driving was reckless and risked death or great bodily injury. An example of this might be a drunk driver who is flying down the freeway at 90 mph and causes an accident where someone dies.

Sentencing

Section 191.5(a) is always charged as a felony, while section 191.5(b) is a "wobbler" meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. If charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated under Penal Code section 191.5(a), the punishment is imprisonment in the state prison for 4, 6, or 10 on a first offense. Section 191.5(b), if charged as a misdemeanor carries up to one year in jail, fines and potential restitution. When section 191(b) is charged as a felony, the punishment is 16 months, 2, or 4 years imprisonment in state prison. The charge carries a potential enhancement of up to six additional years imprisonment under Penal Code 12022.7 if a surviving victim suffers great bodily injury.

Vehicular Manslaughter (Penal Code section 192(c))

When someone kills a person as the result of driving a vehicle while not intoxicated but in 1) an unlawful manner that would constitute a misdemeanor or infraction, and/or 2) with gross negligence, even if not in an unlawful manner, or 3) in an intentional manner for the purpose of financial gain, he or she may be charged with Vehicular Manslaughter under Penal Code section 192(c). Examples of this crime may include the killing of a pedestrian by a speeding car (driving in an unlawful manner), killing someone because the driver lost control of his or her car while reaching to get something on the floorboard (gross negligence), or the intentional setup of an accident for purposes of collecting insurance money that results in the unintended killing of a person (driving in a manner intended for financial gain).

Driving in a grossly negligent manner requires that the driver is driving in such a way that it constitutes more than ordinary carelessness or mistake. Gross negligence is an act that is reckless enough to create a high risk of death or great bodily injury. Even if a driver does not commit any California Vehicle Code infraction, but drives in a way that is grossly negligent and because of that negligence kills someone with his or her vehicle, that driver could be charged with vehicular manslaughter.

Sentencing

Vehicular Manslaughter under Penal Code section 192(c) is a "wobbler" meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony depending upon the facts of the case and the defendant's criminal history. If charged as a misdemeanor, the sentence carries up to one year in jail, fines and potential restitution. When charged as a felony, the sentence is 2, 4, or 6 years imprisonment in state prison. However, when vehicular manslaughter is committed in an intentional manner for the purpose of financial gain, the charge is always a felony and carries a potential sentence of 4, 6, or 10 years imprisonment in state prison. A vehicular manslaughter attorney in Orange County can help you try to avoid or minimize these penalties.

An intoxicated driver, whether under the influence of alcohol or drugs (even prescription drugs), who kills another person as a result of his or her driving but without gross negligence (and without malice aforethought) may be charged with vehicular manslaughter under Penal Code section 191.5(b). If the driver is not only driving while intoxicated and also grossly negligent, (but without malice aforethought) he or she may charged with the more serious charge of gross vehicular manslaughter under Penal Code section 191.5(a). It is important to consult a vehicular manslaughter lawyer in Orange County if you are facing either of these charges. The difference between the two charges is that under section 191.5(a), the intoxicated driver was driving in a manner that amounted to more than ordinary carelessness, inattention, or mistake. In other words, the driving was reckless and risked death or great bodily injury. An example of this might be a drunk driver who is flying down the freeway at 90 mph and causes an accident where someone dies.

Whether charged under section 191.5(a) or (b), the driver will also be charged with a DUI and possibly other charges. Being involved in an accident that ended in the death of another person is overwhelming, being charged with causing that death is emotionally devastating. If you have been charged with vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, you may feel paralyzed or as if all is without hope. That is understandable and it is why you should consult with an experienced Orange County vehicular manslaughter attorney right away. William Weinberg has defended many DUI vehicular manslaughter cases. He understands the emotional impact these charges have on his clients and through his expertise and understanding of the law, he is able to help his through this difficult time. Contact Mr. Weinberg at any time to set up a confidential consultation with a vehicular manslaughter attorney in Orange County without charge. He will work with you and your family to provide a fee structure that best suits your circumstances.

Punishment

Section 191.5(a) is always charged as a felony, while section 191.5(b) is a "wobbler" meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. If charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated under Penal Code section 191.5(a), the punishment is imprisonment in the state prison for 4, 6, or 10 on a first offense. Section 191.5(b), if charged as a misdemeanor carries up to one year in jail, fines and potential restitution. When section 191(b) is charged as a felony, the punishment is 16 months, 2, or 4 years imprisonment in state prison. The charge carries a potential enhancement of up to six additional years imprisonment under Penal Code 12022.7 if a surviving victim suffers great bodily injury. A conviction of vehicle manslaughter while intoxicated will also result in a suspension of driving privileges for three years1.

With a good defense, even a driver convicted under the more serious felony charges can often avoid a sentence of incarceration and secure a grant of probation instead. If you have been charged with this violation, contact Orange County vehicular manslaughter lawyer William Weinberg. He will consult with you regarding your options, potential defenses to the charge, and the possible outcomes if you are convicted.


1 Veh. Code §13351

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