Penal Code 192( c ) PC in California discusses the legalities of vehicular manslaughter. This is a crime defined as the taking of a life in a vehicle accident following an unlawfully or lawfully negligent act. This is not a small crime, but it’s one in which the law makes several considerations. If you are guilty of taking a life following an accident you caused by ordinary negligence, it means you were not doing anything unlawful or illegal in the car when the accident occurred. This crime is a misdemeanor, and you could face up to a year in jail if you’re found guilty in a court of law.
If you were engaged in an illegal or unlawful activity while behind the wheel at the time of the accident, you are guilty of gross negligence rather than ordinary negligence. It’s a wobbler in California law, which means the prosecuting attorney in your case has the option to choose to charge you with a felony or a misdemeanor. How the prosecutor chooses to define your crime is based on several mitigating factors, including any previous criminal history as well as the severity of the crime you committed when the accident occurred.
Vehicular Manslaughter with Gross Negligence in California
You could be charged with a felony or a misdemeanor. If the prosecuting attorney decides to charge you with a misdemeanor, you could face up to a year in jail in addition to other fees. If you’re charged with a felony, you could face up to six years in a state prison. Additionally, you might be required to pay fines as well as face other criminal charges depending on the circumstances of the accident. For example, if you are charged with gross negligence because you were drinking and driving, you face the loss of your driver’s license, mandatory alcohol programs, and you could face additional fines in addition to jail time and other penalties for vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence.
There’s not an easy way to determine what you face in terms of your punishments without knowing the exact details of your crime. The details and other factors involved in the accident play a role in the additional punishments you face in addition to the typical vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence penalties.
Defending Gross Negligence Charges in a Vehicular Manslaughter Case
You’re going through a tough situation if you caused an accident that took a life. The knowledge that someone is not going home to their family ever again is punishment enough for most people, but you do have a right to defend yourself no matter the amount of guilt you’re carrying following this accident.
If your negligence did not cause the death of the victim, it’s a potential defense for you. If, for example, you were drinking and driving, but a pedestrian walked out in front of your car while you had a green light and they did not have the right to cross, you could argue that while you were drunk, you were not the reason this man was killed. On the other hand, if you ran a red light and killed him while he was within his legal right to cross the road, you are guilty.
The prosecuting attorney must be able to prove you acted with gross negligence, and that you did so even though it was clearly within the scope of dangerous in the eyes of any normal person acting correctly. If, for example, you were involved in an accident because you ran a red light and hit another car taking the life of the other driver because another driver was shooting at you, you were doing what you could to save yourself.
There are many defenses you can use to protect yourself even if another life was taken. This is not an easy situation, nor is it a situation you will easily overcome even if your charges are dropped. Call an attorney to help you with your case. You are given the right when you are arrested for your crimes, and it is perfectly legal to defend yourself even if you did take the life of another person by committing gross negligence.