Car accidents are devastating for everyone involved, but none are more catastrophic than when innocent lives are lost. In Santa Barbara, any driver whose actions behind the wheel contribute to another person's death, including other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians, may be charged with vehicular manslaughter. These charges are brought forth based on the belief that a driver's negligent behavior caused the fatal collision. Careless actions behind the wheel that may lead to vehicular manslaughter charges include driving while distracted and intoxicated.
Individuals who try to handle a vehicular manslaughter charge without a seasoned criminal defense lawyer's legal advice may confront harsher sentences than they deserve. If you have been charged with vehicular manslaughter in California, a Santa Barbara vehicular manslaughter defense attorney at Aron Law Firm may help you understand your legal avenues for resolving the charge to the most favorable result.
What Is Considered Vehicular Manslaughter in Santa Barbara?
California Penal Code Section 192(c) establishes that any driver whose actions contribute to the unlawful killing of another person has committed a criminal offense. While no one anticipates being in or causing a collision, drivers who act carelessly or negligently behind the wheel may face severe criminal charges should their behavior result in a fatal accident. Numerous types of negligence that contribute to auto accidents may include:
- Drunk or drugged driving: Drivers inebriated by alcohol or drugs face harsher penalties than those driving sober.
- Distracted driving: These behaviors include texting, eating, or engaging with passengers, children, or pets.
- Excessive speeding: Individuals driving at reckless speeds, racing, or weaving in and out of traffic display negligent driving behaviors.
- Insurance fraud: This includes intentionally causing an accident to receive insurance money or financial gain fraudulently.
- Committing an infraction: This includes failing to yield, stop at a red light, or any other legal act performed unlawfully.
Depending on the facts surrounding a vehicular manslaughter charge, the prosecution must prove the at-fault driver exhibited either ordinary negligence or gross negligence. While making this decision, the prosecution consults with a team of investigators, police officers, and accident reconstruction specialists. To even the odds stacked against you when facing a vehicular manslaughter charge, be sure to hire a criminal defense lawyer with experience defending vehicular manslaughter charges.
What Are Santa Barbara Penalties for Vehicular Manslaughter?
Vehicular manslaughter is a criminal offense for which any person may face various penalties in Santa Barbara. Depending on the circumstances, drivers may be charged with misdemeanor or felony vehicular manslaughter. If you are facing these charges, then your criminal history, the particular facts claimed in your case, and your criminal defense attorney's effectiveness all may have a significant effect on the outcome.
The penalties for vehicular manslaughter may vary depending on aggravating circumstances, such as whether the driver was suspected of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Following a conviction, a person may face up to ten years in state prison.
Misdemeanor Vehicular Manslaughter
If you are convicted of a misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, you may face the following penalties:
- Jail sentence of up to one year
- Suspension or revocation of driver's license
Additionally, you may be sued in civil court for damages related to wrongful death, medical costs, pain and suffering, and more.
Felony Vehicular Manslaughter
If you are convicted of felony vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, the penalties are significant compared to a misdemeanor charge. A felony vehicular manslaughter conviction is punishable by up to six years in state prison with potential suspension or revocation of your driver's license. Like a misdemeanor charge, a conviction in criminal court may also involve a civil lawsuit.
Possible Defense Strategies against Vehicular Manslaughter Charges in Santa Barbara
If you're facing vehicular manslaughter charges in Santa Barbara, the prosecution may utilize all of its resources to show your guilt; therefore, it is essential to have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side as early on in your case as possible. Some matters that your attorney will consider when defending against vehicular manslaughter charges include:
- Lack of negligence: If your actions were reasonable under the circumstances, your defense attorney might argue that your actions which led to a death were not negligent.
- Your actions did not cause death: If the prosecution cannot prove the connection between your actions and the death of another, your charges may be dismissed.
- Police failed to follow procedures: If the police fail to abide by specific guidelines when conducting arrests or obtaining evidence, your defense lawyer may request the judge to exclude illegally obtained evidence.
Retaining skilled criminal defense to fight against these charges may make all of the difference between a harsh sentence and a lighter one. At Aron Law Firm, we realize the anxieties that these charges may bring. That's why we work tirelessly to make this process as painless as possible and aim for the most favorable outcome.
Speak to an Experienced Vehicular Manslaughter Lawyer in Santa Barbara Today
If you face vehicular manslaughter charges in Santa Barbara, turn to the experienced legal team at Aron Law Firm to stand up for your rights and protect your future. Led by former California Deputy District Attorney William M. Aron, our firm takes the insight gained at the state level and uses it to defend our clients in Santa Barbara.
Get in touch with a knowledgeable vehicular manslaughter defense attorney about your situation today. Schedule a free and confidential case review by completing our contact form or calling 805-618-1768.