Chances are that if you drive a car, you will be involved in some type of car accident over your driving career. Fortunately, most of those accidents are minor. However, some accidents can lead to injury or even death for other drivers. In deadly accidents, a simple mistake could mean that you are now facing the crime of vehicular homicide.
At Dhar Law, LLP, we provide legal defense for individuals charged with vehicular homicide in Boston, MA. Contact our attorneys today at 617-391-0592.
What is Vehicular Homicide?
Under Massachusetts law, motor vehicle homicide involves the death of a person as a result of the negligent or reckless operation of a motor vehicle. This can depend on whether the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Vehicular/Motor Vehicle Homicide
When the driver was not under the influence of alcohol or intoxicating substances, a motor vehicle homicide will be not be charged as a felony. If the driver was operating their vehicle recklessly or negligently, which caused the death of another person, they will be charged with a misdemeanor.
Vehicular Homicide While Operating Under the Influence (OUI)
Whether the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs can affect how the criminal offense is charged. A motor vehicle homicide involving an OUI and the driver's negligent driving can be charged as a felony. However, if a motor vehicle homicide involving an OUI without negligence will usually be charged as a misdemeanor.
Under the Influence
In Massachusetts, for the purpose of this provision, an OUI involves a driver who is under the influence of alcohol with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher, or under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, narcotics, depressants, stimulants, or glue vapors.
Caused the Death of Another
Car accidents can involve multiple cars, with the fault of the accidents shared among the people involved. To be convicted of motor vehicle homicide, the defendant's actions had to be the cause of the death of another person. If the accident was caused by someone else, then the defendant may not be guilty of homicide.
Motor Vehicle Homicide Penalties
Penalties for motor vehicle homicide will depend on the circumstances of the case, and if the crime was charged as a felony or a misdemeanor.
Misdemeanor Motor Vehicle Homicide: The penalties include a minimum of 30 days in jail, with a maximum of up to 2 ½ years, and a fine of up to $3,000. In addition, the Registrar of Motor Vehicles will revoke your driver's license for 15 years on a first offense. A second offense will see your license revoked for life.
Felony Motor Vehicle Homicide: The penalties include a minimum of 2 ½ years in prison, with a maximum of up to 15 years in prison, and a fine of up to $5,000. In addition, your driver's license will be revoked for 15 years. If you have a prior OUI or prior motor vehicle homicide conviction, your license will be revoked for life.
Loss of License
Upon conviction for motor vehicle homicide, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles will revoke your driver's license or permit for 15 years on a first offense. Revocation applies whether the conviction was for a misdemeanor or felony. A second or subsequent conviction will result in lifetime revocation.
Even if you are appealing your conviction, your license will remain revoked. Only if the appeal ends in your favor will your license be restored. Additionally, the Registry will not grant hardships for these offenses.
Motor Vehicle Homicide Investigation
Every motor vehicle accident resulting in a fatality will be fully investigated. Some district attorney offices even have specialized Motor Vehicle Homicide Units, with Assistant District Attorneys who respond to deadly car accidents. The DAs are on-call around the clock, and work with the police and state troopers at the crime scene to investigate the accident. The prosecution has responded to the accident immediately, which is why you should act now so that your attorney can help you keep all your options open, and give you the best defense.
Defenses to Vehicular Homicide
The available defenses to a charge of vehicular homicide will depend on the case. Causation could be countered by showing that someone else was the cause of the accident, and the cause of death, rather than the defendant. Additionally, if charged with vehicular homicide with an OUI, a possible defense is showing that the driver was not under the influence at the time.
An attorney experienced in defending clients charged with motor vehicle homicide will be able to address the serious issues facing their client. Each case is different, which requires a full investigation into the facts, to be able to provide the best defense. Make sure your attorney understands the issues, the law, and will fight for your rights in court. Contact our lawyers today at 617-391-0592.