Vehicular Manslaughter Attorney in Kennewick, Washington
The number of fatalities due to car crashes in the state of Washington has gone up over the past three years and reached a staggering 602 deaths in 2021, according to the Washington Safety Traffic Commission. While most of these crashes are indeed accidental, there are a number of them that are caused by reckless driving. In some cases, even if the driver had no intention of harming another person, the driver can still be charged with vehicular manslaughter. The penalties of a conviction like this in Washington can be devastating.
If you’ve been involved in a car accident that resulted in the death of an individual and would like to speak with a criminal defense attorney, contact Nicholas George Law Firm PLLC immediately. Even if you believe you’re innocent, this kind of charge must be handled seriously by an experienced professional. Attorney Nicholas George can serve individuals in the Kennewick, Washington area as well as throughout Walla Walla, Spokane, Benton County, and Franklin County.
Vehicular Manslaughter in Washington
Manslaughter charges are used when someone has accidentally killed another individual but didn’t do so with malice, which would escalate the charge to murder. When the death occurs because of a car—either to a passenger, pedestrian, or other driver—the charge of vehicular manslaughter (also called homicide-by-vehicle) is applied. This can be a rather broad charge which can apply to several different situations.
One of the most common examples of vehicular manslaughter occurs when someone is operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol and unintentionally kills another person due to their reckless driving. In this case, the driver would be charged with a DUI as well as vehicular manslaughter. It’s also possible for someone to be guilty of reckless driving who has not been drinking alcohol or using drugs. In these cases, the driver would be guilty of negligent driving for various reasons like taking their eyes off the road to text someone, falling asleep at the wheel due to fatigue, or simply becoming distracted by something else in the car like another passenger.
There are also instances when the driver failed to address a safety concern in their car which then resulted in an accidental death. This could mean they failed to clear ice or snow from their windshield, their windshield wipers weren’t functioning correctly, or they didn’t have their headlights on. In all these examples, negligence could cause the driver to hit another car or pedestrian and cause an accidental death.
Importantly, just because you were involved in an auto accident where someone died, doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be charged with vehicular manslaughter. Even so, you should always have a skilled lawyer working on your side during these difficult cases since the penalties for vehicular manslaughter are severe and your future is too precious to risk.
Elements Needed to Prove Vehicular Manslaughter
The charge of vehicular manslaughter is very serious and the prosecution must present substantial evidence for a conviction. The first thing they must prove is that you violated the law somehow while driving. This could be by driving under the influence, using your cell phone in a non-hands-free mode, or driving recklessly. They must then show that you acted negligently and that your actions were a danger to those around you. Lastly, they must show that due to your actions, someone lost their life.
Proving negligence and recklessness is perhaps the most difficult task for the prosecution. It’s here that your defense attorney will be an indispensable asset. The fact is, true accidents happen all the time. Simply because you’ve found yourself in this horrific situation does not mean that you were acting recklessly. By analyzing every piece of evidence available and thoroughly listening to your side of the story, Attorney Nicholas George will fight tirelessly to protect your rights and work toward the most favorable result.
The penalties for vehicular manslaughter are not as extreme as a murder charge, but that doesn’t mean they should be treated lightly. If you are convicted on this count, the actual penalties that a judge assigns will differ based on the circumstances of your case but can include fines and jail time (in some cases years of jail time). In general, you’ll see more severe penalties if you were extremely negligent, such as driving drunk or drugged.
Vehicular Manslaughter Defense Attorney in Kennewick, Washington
Facing these kinds of charges can feel overwhelming for you and your loved ones. If you or someone you love has been arrested for vehicular manslaughter and you’re in the Kennewick, Washington area, reach out to Nicholas George Law Firm PLLC to schedule a consultation. Anytime you’re involved in an accident where someone has died, you need legal representation, and you need it now. Don’t hesitate to set up a meeting.