Chester County Vehicular Homicide DUI Attorney
Pennsylvania Vehicular Homicide and Vehicular Homicide Which is DUI Related If you have been charged with unintentionally taking the life of another person with your vehicle, then you know just how traumatic those charges are. You may have enormous feelings of guilt and remorse, and these emotions could be with you for the rest of your life. Additionally, you are facing significant legal problems that will be resolved in a criminal court of law. Of course, the best way to avoid charges of vehicular homicide is to drive carefully, however there are times when you may have driven as safely as possible, yet are still being charged with vehicular homicide. Or, perhaps you made a serious, one-time mistake, which you will regret forever, yet you must still deal with the consequences. When a tragedy such as this strikes, you could feel guilty for surviving the accident, or you could be dealing with your own injuries.
The attorneys at the Ciccarelli Law Offices are aware that good people can make mistakes which potentially cost them their future and their freedom. Our attorneys are compassionate to your current situation, and we have a deep understanding of your rights as well as your options. When possible, we will work hard on your behalf to have your charges dropped altogether, or at the very least, reduced to lesser charges. If that is not possible, then we will work equally hard to have your sentence reduced, with a goal of helping you avoid prison time. Remember—just because you are facing charges of vehicular homicide, this in no way means you will automatically be convicted. There are many factors to consider, and each case is different.
Pennsylvania Vehicular Homicide
In the state of Pennsylvania, there are two types of vehicular homicide. If you were driving under the influence and you take the life of another with your vehicle, then you would be charged with Homicide by Vehicle while DUI. The other type is a form of manslaughter, or Homicide by Vehicle, with no impairment involved. Vehicular Homicide, or Homicide by Vehicle, means you unintentionally caused the death of another human being. You could have done so because you broke a traffic law, or because you were driving recklessly or were grossly negligent in the operation of your car. Some examples include:
- Failing to stop at a stop sign
- Running a red light
- Driving while taking a prescription which warns against driving
- Texting while driving
- Not sleeping for 24 hours, then getting behind the wheel of your car
- Exceeding the speed limit
- Ignoring warning signs
- Engaging in road rage
- Engaging in street racing
Penalties for Vehicular Homicide in Pennsylvania
Vehicular Homicide in the state of Pennsylvania, is charged as a third-degree felony. If convicted, you could face a three-year suspension of your driver’s license, a fine as large as $15,000, and up to seven years in prison. The amount of prison time you are sentenced to has to do with whether you have any other vehicular convictions, any prior DUI convictions, whether the accident occurred in a work zone, whether you are on probation, whether you are on parole or if there was an emergency vehicle involved in the accident. Any of these factors could result in an increase in your prison sentence. In short, the criminal consequences for Vehicular Homicide are similar to those of other felonies, despite the fact that the accident could have been just that—an accident.
Your attorney could be able to secure a deferred or suspended sentence to help you avoid jail or prison time. If you are placed on probation for Vehicular Homicide, the judge may order you to comply with specialized conditions related to your offense. As an example, suppose you were convicted of killing a pedestrian while you were texting and driving. The judge could require you to face victim impact panels as a means of ensuring you fully understand that your choices have consequences. If medical expenses were incurred by the family of the deceased, the judge could order you to reimburse the family for those expenses. To prove your guilt, it must be shown you acted in a reckless manner, that you caused a death, that you were in the process of breaking a traffic law when the death occurred, and that because you broke that traffic law, you directly caused the death of another person.
Penalties for DUI-Related Vehicular Homicide in Pennsylvania
If you were driving under the influence and committed Vehicular Homicide, you could face second-degree felony charges. If convicted, you could face up to ten years in prison and a maximum of $25,000 in fines. To prove your guilt for DUI-related Vehicular Homicide charges, the prosecution must show you drove under the influence of a controlled substance or alcohol, that you are responsible for causing a death, and that the death you caused was the result of your driving while impaired.
Defenses for Pennsylvania Vehicular Homicide and DUI-Related Vehicular Homicide
Defenses for Vehicular Homicide are fewer than those for “regular” homicide charges, which generally provide provisions for self-defense. Regarding Vehicular Homicide, your mental state is generally considered to be reckless, therefore you could not claim self-defense. Your attorney may still be able to disprove causation as a defense to your charges. This means that the death of another person is not, in and of itself, sufficient to convict you of Vehicular Homicide. The prosecution must also show a connection between that death and your conduct.
As an example, if you hit a pedestrian who ran out from behind a parked vehicle, then even if you were exceeding the speed limit, your conduct might not have caused the death. Even if such a defense is not entirely successful, your attorney could still have your charges reduced. These are serious charges which will not go away if you ignore them. Contacting an experienced attorney from the Ciccarelli Law Offices immediately is the very best thing you do for your future. At Ciccarelli Law Offices, success is our mission—we are driven to serve and ready to fight. Contact Ciccarelli Law Offices at (610)-692-8700.
When a person driving a motor vehicle in a reckless manner causes the death of another, the crime may be called vehicular homicide, vehicular manslaughter or reckless homicide. In the majority of vehicular homicide charges, the person charged was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time, however if a person dies as the result of negligent driving—such as drag racing—vehicular homicide charges can also be filed.
There is no intent to kill in such a crime, however vehicular homicide is an extremely serious crime. Under Pennsylvania statute, vehicular homicide occurs when a person recklessly causes the death of another, while engaged in any violation of a state or local law. For a DUI vehicular homicide to occur the person charged must have been driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance.
Consequences of a DUI Vehicular Homicide Conviction
A conviction for DUI vehicular homicide in the state of Pennsylvania could result in a mandatory minimum prison sentence of three years, with a maximum of ten years for the death of one person, and three more years for each additional death. The fine imposed could be as high as $25,000. DUI vehicular homicide is a second-degree felony in the state
Defenses to DUI Vehicular Manslaughter Charges
If you have been charged with DUI vehicular homicide in the state of Pennsylvania, it is extremely important you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney at the earliest possible time. Your attorney may be able to exclude incriminating evidence, particularly if your rights were violated when the evidence was obtained. Perhaps the police officer failed to comply with established procedures for collecting evidence, in which case that evidence could possibly be excluded.
Your attorney may be able to show your intoxication was not the legal cause of the accident which caused the death, rather that an independent event caused the death. The attorney may also be able to present evidence which shows your apparent intoxication was not a result of alcohol or drugs, but was due to a medical condition or medical emergency. Having a DUI arrest following an automobile collision is an extremely stressful situation, particularly when another person loses their life in the accident.
Aside from spending years in prison, a felony on your criminal record can affect your future in ways you may not even be able to imagine. Your career may be destroyed, your reputation gone, your ability to own a firearm or borrow money to go to college are all collateral damage you may experience if you are convicted of DUI vehicular homicide in the state of Pennsylvania. Your Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney can provide a strong defense on your behalf, with a goal of minimizing the charges or having them dismissed altogether.
Contact Our Experienced West Chester DUI Defense Lawyers
The DUI defense lawyers of Ciccarelli Law Offices are devoted and impassioned to serving our clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania. Our Chester County based law firm is based at 304 North High Street, West Chester PA 19380 and serves clients in Kennett Square, Downingtown, West Chester, Coatesville, Exton, Chester Springs, Chadds Ford, Landenberg, Honey Brook, Oxford, Malvern, Parkesburg, Phoenixville and Paoli.
At Ciccarelli Law Offices, our Vehicular Homicide DUI lawyers take their commitment seriously their treatment of our clients facing a DUI stop, DUI arrest and DUI penalties. You deserve a vehicular homicide DUI lawyer that is available when you need him, treats you with respect, and protects your rights vigorously.
Based in suburban Philadelphia at 304 North High Street, West Chester PA 19380, we make your choice all the clearer with locations throughout the metropolitan Philadelphia Pennsylvania, including Center City Philadelphia, West Chester PA, Malvern (serving Downingtown/Exton PA), Kennett Square PA, Lancaster PA, King of Prussia PA, Plymouth Meeting PA, Radnor and Springfield PA.
We serve Downingtown, Paoli, Media, Norristown, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon, Reading and Allentown. For more information or to schedule an appointment with an experienced Vehicular Homicide DUI Attorney at Ciccarelli Law Offices, by contacting us at (610) 692-8700 or toll free at (877) 529-2422.