Vehicular homicide, or vehicular manslaughter, is the unintentional killing of an individual from inattentive or reckless driving. According to the New Jersey Courts, the court must conclude that the defendant caused the death from their actions.
If you face a vehicular manslaughter charge, you must understand how the plaintiff might conduct the case. Even if you believe the death was not your fault, some factors could sway the court against you.
What counts as negligence?
Once you get behind the wheel, you take on a certain amount of responsibility. Besides the actions you take while driving, the choices you made before also impact a vehicular manslaughter case. For example, if you drove while fatigued or incapacitated in some way, this might affect how negligent a court finds you. Even factors that seem out of your control, such as poor driving conditions, might count against you. Vehicular manslaughter laws rely partially on common sense.
Are there degrees of negligence?
A court might find you guilty of simple or gross negligence. Simple negligence implies that you made a minor mistake to cause the death. Such actions include looking down while driving, taking a phone call or becoming distracted. Gross negligence typically carries much more severe penalties. If you break traffic laws, drive aggressively or drive while intoxicated, you risk a gross negligence charge. The most severe penalties for gross negligence are 10 years in prison and a $150,000 fine.
To prove vehicular homicide, the plaintiff must demonstrate you exercised a disregard for human life. Do not delay your defense because, with the right strategy, you might be able to dismiss the charge before going to court.