It would seem intuitive to most people, but many criminal defense lawyers simply fail to understand the difference in vehicular homicide cases and misdemeanor DUI or traffic accident cases. Vehicular homicide cases are, in fact, vastly different from other DUI, reckless driving, and misdemeanor traffic offense cases. Emotions run high and the intensity with which these cases are prosecuted is vastly different from cases that do not involve a death. If you hope to obtain an exceptional result in a vehicular homicide case, you need an exception vehicular homicide attorney.
In 2012 alone, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 1,192 traffic fatalities in Georgia. These tragic incidents occurred for a wide variety of reasons, but the common factor was the involvement of a motor vehicle. While not every traffic fatality results in criminal charges, in some cases the responsible driver may face a vehicular homicide charge. This is a serious criminal charge that can lead to harsh penalties upon conviction. Have you or a loved one been charged with vehicular homicide? If so, call the Sessions Law Firm now and discuss your case with an Atlanta criminal defense lawyer.
WHAT IS VEHICULAR HOMICIDE?
Vehicular homicide occurs when a driver unlawfully causes the death of another using a motor vehicle. More specifically, the driver could face this charge when his or her violation of traffic laws leads to the death of another person. It is important to note that vehicular homicide is different than the criminal charge of murder. A driver may not have intended to cause the death of another, but could still be charged with vehicular homicide.
The level of the charge will often depend on which traffic law the driver violated.
MISDEMEANOR VEHICULAR HOMICIDE CHARGES IN GEORGIA
Let's take a case in which a person is involved in a traffic accident that results in the death of another person, and let's say that the at-fault driver is alleged to have been following too closely. However, there is no allegation that the at-fault driver was being reckless or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. That at-fault driver may be charged with second degree vehicular homicide or homicide by vehicle in Georgia. This is a misdemeanor vehicular homicide charge, and the statutory provision for it is:
Any person who causes the death of another person, without an intention to do so, by violating any provision of this title other than subsection (a) of Code Section 40-6-163, subsection (b) of Code Section 40-6-270, Code Section 40-6-390 or 40-6-391, or subsection (a) of Code Section 40-6-395 commits the offense of homicide by vehicle in the second degree when such violation is the cause of said death and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished as provided in Code Section 17-10-3.
FELONY VEHICULAR HOMICIDE CHARGES IN GEORGIA
If the driver violates certain traffic laws, and those actions caused another person's death, the driver could face a first-degree vehicular homicide charge. This felony charge is often the result of traffic fatalities resulting from:
- Reckless driving;
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
- Illegally passing or meeting a school bus or
- Fleeing or eluding a police officer.
A habitual violator of traffic and safety who kills another while driving on a suspended or revoked driver's license may also face this felony charge.
Depending on the circumstances, a driver could face a misdemeanor charge of vehicular homicide. Every criminal case is unique, so it is important that your Georgia defense attorney carefully and objectively review all the facts when handling your case.
WHAT PENALTIES DO I FACE?
As with any crime, the penalties you face will depend on whether the charge is a misdemeanor or a felony.
In Georgia, misdemeanors, like second-degree vehicular homicide, are punishable by up to one year in jail, and fines up to $1,000. Felonies are punishable by prison sentences longer than one year and fines over $1,000. First-degree vehicular homicideis punishable by a prison sentence between three and 15 years. However, if the driver is a habitual violator, the penalty increases to five to 20 years in prison.
HOW DO WE APPROACH VEHICULAR HOMICIDE CASES?
First, it is absolutely critical that your criminal defense attorney understands what legal challenges can and should be mounted to your charges. We have remained on the cutting edge of DUI litigation in Georgia, and we understand this extremely complex area of the law as well – if not better – than almost any other practitioner in the state. If your criminal defense attorney is attempting to get up to speed on DUI law in connection with your case, it is too late.
We aggressively pursue our motions practice in these cases, and we have found that this is instrumental to our success.
CONTACT AN EXPERIENCED ATLANTA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY TODAY
The experienced legal team at the Sessions Law Firm takes a unique approach to vehicular homicide cases. Unlike some attorneys, our lawyers handle these cases without judgment or assumptions. We take on cases other attorneys are afraid of, because we know that every client deserves a fair trial and a zealous defense. Our personalized approach to these cases has earned Attorney Ben Sessions a Georgia Rising Star Award from SuperLawyers every year since 2010. If you have been charged with vehicular homicide, contact our Atlanta office today and discuss your case with a skilled vehicular homicide attorney.