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We’ve spent quite a bit of time exploring California’s penal code together, breaking the law down into easy to digest chunks and turning that complicated, convoluted mountain of legalese into something that’s halfway coherent. In doing so, we think you’ll agree that the letter of the law goes from being confusing and inaccessible to easy to understand, something that you can figure out in order to help mount your legal defense should you need it. With that in mind, we’re going to continue our ongoing series, in this post dealing with the crime of gross vehicular manslaughter. We’re going to take a look at some definitions, punishments, and then finally some legal defenses in order to get you up to speed on how this law actually works. So let’s get started with a couple of definitions.
Definitions of Gross Vehicular Manslaughter
In the state of California, vehicular manslaughter is when you cause the death of somebody else by either negligently doing something unlawful that’s not considered to be a California felony or some sort of lawful act that can potentially cause death. Now, as an example, if you killed someone while committing a crime that was a California felony under the law, then you’d actually be charged with murder. But since we’re dealing with gross vehicular manslaughter and not murder, let’s stick to that. We’ve got a pretty good idea of what this charge entails now, so I think we’re ready to get into some of the punishments you could potentially face when it comes to being convicted of this crime. The punishments can get a little tricky as well, so it’s important that we really nail down what the law says so we can get a better idea of what to do in the case of your legal defense.
Punishments for Gross Vehicular Manslaughter
The key here for punishments for gross vehicular manslaughter are whether you acted with gross negligence or just ordinary negligence. If you acted with gross negligence, then this becomes a wobbler which can be tried as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The maximum jail time you could be facing with a misdemeanor charge would be one year in county jail, and that moves up to six years in state prison if you’re convicted of the felony version. Now if you’re found to have done this in just ordinary negligence, then it’s a misdemeanor that’s punishable with up to one year in county jail.
Legal Defenses for Gross Vehicular Manslaughter
You do have a few legal defenses on your side when it comes to being charged with gross vehicular manslaughter. Among them, you can claim that you didn’t act with ordinary or gross negligence, that your negligence didn’t actually cause the victim’s death, or that you had been facing a sudden emergency and had acted fairly reasonably under the circumstances. Using one of these claims isn’t a get out of jail free card by any means, but it can definitely help your counsel to dismiss or at the very least reduce your charges.
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So as you can see, the law isn’t nearly as intimidating when you break it down into parts and read it back in language that’s actually normal and easy to understand. And once that’s done, it makes it that much easier to figure out how you’re going to mount your legal defense. With that said, if you’re facing legal trouble, you should get in contact with us immediately so we can get everything straightened out.