A motorist who drives recklessly with criminal negligence or while under the influence of alcohol or drugs and kills another person will likely face vehicular manslaughter charges.
Have you or someone you loved been charged with vehicular manslaughter? Do you need help understanding what to do next?
The Southern Maryland law firm Sasscer, Clagett & Bucher (SCB) is ready to defend your case. Getting representation as soon as possible following a vehicular manslaughter charge is the best way to get a positive result at trial. These charges are considered very serious. Only an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer can successfully defend your case.
Vehicular Manslaughter in Maryland
In Maryland there are four types of vehicular homicide:
- manslaughter by vehicle
- criminally negligent manslaughter by vehicle
- homicide by motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol
- homicide by motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or a controlled substance
Manslaughter by Vehicle
Maryland Law defines manslaughter by vehicle as causing the death of another person while driving in a “grossly negligent” manner.
Criminally-negligent Manslaughter by Vehicle
Criminally-negligent manslaughter by vehicle is a less serious offense, and involves killing a person while driving with “criminal negligence”.
The key distinction between these two charges is the prosecution’s ability to prove gross negligence versus criminal negligence. Both crimes require more than “mere negligence”, the lower level of fault necessary in a civil case. To prove gross negligence, the prosecution must demonstrate that the defendant was aware of the risk to human life posed by his or her conduct, and consciously disregarded the risk. With criminal-negligence, the defendant should have been aware of the risk to human life but wasn’t actually aware of the risk.
DUI/DWI-related Manslaughter by Vehicle
The other two types of vehicular manslaughter are DUI and DWI-related.
- DUI-related is where the defendant kills another person while driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or higher while “substantially impaired” by alcohol.
- Impaired vehicular homicide is where the defendant kills another person while “normal coordination” is affected by alcohol, drugs, or a controlled substance.
Penalties for Vehicular Manslaughter in Maryland
Penalties for vehicular manslaughter in Maryland depends on the circumstances, but generally the possible penalties are:
Manslaughter by Vehicle. Manslaughter-by-vehicle is a felony. A conviction generally carries up to ten years in prison and/or a maximum fine of up to $5,000. However, a defendant with a prior vehicular manslaughter or homicide conviction can face more time in prison and higher fines.
Criminally Negligent Manslaughter by Vehicle. Criminally negligent manslaughter by vehicle is a misdemeanor. If convicted, a motorist is looking at up to three years in jail and/or a maximum fine of $5,000. Like manslaughter by vehicle, a prior conviction for the same offense will lead to increased prison time and higher fines.
Homicide by Motor Vehicle While Under the Influence of Alcohol. Homicide by motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol is a felony. If convicted, a first offender can face up to five years in prison and/or a maximum of $5,000 in fines. A prior conviction leads to increased prison time and higher fines.
Homicide by Motor Vehicle While Impaired by Alcohol, Drugs, or a Controlled Substance. Homicide by motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or a controlled substance is a felony. First offenders face up to three years in prison and/or a maximum $5,000 in fines. A prior conviction leads to increased prison time and higher fines.
Contact A Maryland Criminal Defense Lawyer.
Whether you are convicted of a crime and whether you actually spend time in jail may depend on how good your lawyer is. If you or a loved one has been charged with vehicular manslaughter in the state of Maryland, it is imperative that you contact a Maryland criminal defense lawyer immediately. An attorney can help you make important decisions that may impact you and your loved ones for the rest of your life. If you do not have an attorney advising you about what to say, who you have to answer to, and what you should do, you run the risk of answering a question in a way that could incriminate yourself.
If you would like to speak with a member of the firm, or have any question about our practice, please contact our offices to arrange a consultation. Call 301-627-5500. Direct telephone lines and cell phone numbers are listed in the individual attorney pages for the firm’s criminal attorneys.