What is Vehicular Manslaughter?

What is Vehicular Manslaughter?

Vehicular manslaughter charges can turn your life upside down in an instant. One tragic accident, and suddenly you find yourself accused of a serious crime that carries heavy penalties. If you’re facing vehicular manslaughter charges in Michigan, you likely feel overwhelmed, scared, and unsure of what to do next. But you should know that help is a click or phone call away.

What is Vehicular Manslaughter?

In Michigan, vehicular manslaughter falls under the broader category of homicide. It refers to causing the death of another person while operating a motor vehicle, although without the specific intent to kill. Several scenarios can lead to vehicular manslaughter charges, including:

  • Driving while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs
  • Reckless driving, such as excessive speeding or ignoring traffic signals
  • Gross negligence, like texting while driving or falling asleep at the wheel

Michigan law distinguishes between three types of vehicular manslaughter:

Operating Under the Influence (OWI) Causing Death: If a fatal accident occurs while you’re under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination, you may be charged under MCL 257.625(4). This felony offense can result in up to 15 years in prison and a fine ranging from $2,500 to $10,000.

Reckless Driving Causing Death: If your reckless driving leads to someone’s death, you can face charges under MCL 257.626(4). This felony carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a fine of $2,500 to $10,000.

Moving Violation Causing Death: In Michigan, it is also a crime to commit a civil infraction (a non-criminal act) that results in death. For example, if a driver makes a left turn and accidentally fails to see a pedestrian or cyclist in the crosswalk, hitting them and causing their death, they can be charged with committing a moving violation causing death.

This offense does not require any intent to commit a crime or to kill; it is essentially an accident that becomes a crime due to the resulting death. Moving Violation Causing Death is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

The Consequences of a Vehicular Manslaughter Conviction

A vehicular manslaughter conviction can affect your life in many ways beyond the criminal penalties explained above, including the following:

  • Criminal record: Having a felony conviction on your record can affect your ability to pursue certain employment, housing, and educational opportunities.
  • Driver’s license revocation: Your license will likely be revoked, limiting your mobility and independence.
  • Civil lawsuits: The deceased’s family may file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking monetary damages from you.

Understanding Your Rights and Potential Defenses

If you face vehicular manslaughter charges, remember that you have rights:

  • Presumption of innocence: You are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • Right to remain silent: You have the right to avoid self-incrimination through remaining silent.
  • Right to an attorney: You have the right to legal representation throughout the process.

Depending on the circumstances, potential defenses against vehicular manslaughter charges include:

  • Lack of causation: You may have a defense if your actions did not directly cause the death.
  • Sobriety: OWI Causing Death hinges on the fact that you were intoxicated at the time of the accident. As such, you can undermine the prosecution’s case against you by showing you were sober or by seeking to exclude wrongfully obtained evidence of your intoxication.
  • Mechanical failure: If a vehicle defect caused the accident, you might shift liability to the manufacturer.

Contact The Law Office of John Freeman

If you face vehicular manslaughter charges in Michigan and need help fighting back, the Law Office of John Freeman is here for you. As a former state and federal prosecutor, John Freeman possesses the knowledge and skill to mount a strong defense on your behalf. Contact our office today at 248-900-2681 for a free consultation and take the first step towards protecting your future.