Car accidents happen every day in Phoenix. In fact, motorists in Arizona have over 100,000 accidents per year on average. Even though many car accidents involve no criminal negligence, others are caused by what Arizona law considers reckless behavior. Should this behavior result in the death of another motorist, you can face a charge of vehicular manslaughter.
- Manslaughter normally involves the killing of another human being by recklessly causing his or her death. Recklessly means that a person is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk with respect to a result or circumstance described as an offense (A.R.S. 13-105 (10)(C)
Vehicular manslaughter is an extremely serious crime that can result in a very lengthy prison sentence, hefty fines, and the revocation of your driver’s license. It can also be a frightening and overwhelming experience that can affect the rest of your life in very negative ways. Therefore, if you find yourself charged with vehicular manslaughter in Phoenix, you should immediately seek out a competent, aggressive defense attorney to fight for your rights. And do not discuss the facts of the case with anyone other than a lawyer.
What Are the Vehicular Manslaughter Laws?
Arizona does not have a statute that deals specifically with vehicular manslaughter. Rather, it classifies vehicular manslaughter as a 2nd degree murder charge, which makes it a class 2 felony crime. The prosecution can bring vehicular manslaughter charges against you if you cause a deadly accident due to reckless or negligent acts like:
- Excessively speeding- Including traveling 35 miles an hour or more in a school zone, exceeding the posted speed limit in a business or residential zone by more than 20 miles an hour, or more than 45 miles an hour if not posted, as well as exceeding 85 miles per hour in all other areas.
- Street racing- Including initiating or taking part in a demonstration of speed, an acceleration contest, or a drag race on a street or highway.
- Aggressively driving (or road rage)- Including disobeying traffic signs or signals, unsafely changing lanes, passing vehicles in an unlawful manner, and/or following too closely.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs DUI- Including operating or having physical control of a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of more than 0.08, or 0.04 for drivers of commercial vehicles (A.R.S. 28-1381). Also, if you are under the influence of any substance not legally prescribed (A.R.S. 13-3401).
What are the Considerations for Vehicular Manslaughter?
In order for you to be found guilty of vehicular manslaughter, the prosecution must prove that you were aware of, or should have been aware of, and thus consciously disregarded the safety of those who were killed. Furthermore, if aggravated circumstances are present, such as an extreme DUI, which involves a BAC of greater than 0.15, you can face a much more severe sentence.
- A class 2 felony charge for vehicular manslaughter carries a presumptive sentence of up to 10.5 years in prison, and fines of up to $150,000 plus surcharges any civil liabilities you might incur
- A class 2 felony charge for vehicular manslaughter with aggravated circumstances carries a sentence of up to 21 years in prison, and fines of up to $150,000 plus any civil liabilities you might incur
Additionally, if you are found guilty of vehicular manslaughter in Arizona, a judge can take your prior legal history into account when deciding your sentence.
Trust Phoenix Criminal Attorney Firm With Your Vehicular Manslaughter Defense in Phoenix
The best way to make sure you are never charged with vehicular manslaughter is to make sure you maintain complete control of your emotional, mental and physical faculties at all times while operating your motor vehicle. However, if for any reason you end up charged with vehicular manslaughter, you should immediately consult an attorney with experience defending vehicular manslaughter cases.
Phoenix Criminal Attorney provides our clients with focused legal assistance for all vehicular manslaughter charges, no matter how severe. We will not stop fighting for your rights by making sure that every possible legal option and defense strategy is available to you. If you are charged with a vehicular manslaughter offense in Phoenix, contact us today for a private, no obligation consultation at 602-551-8092.