California Vehicular Manslaughter FAQs: Penal Code Section 192(c)
1. How will the prosecution decide whether to charge vehicular manslaughter as a felony or misdemeanor?
California vehicular manslaughter is considered a “wobbler,” which means it can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor offense depending upon the facts of your individual case and your prior criminal history. In making this determination, the prosecution will review the police report and focus specifically on your behavior at the time the accident occurred. If you were driving erratically, not paying attention or in total disregard of traffic laws, the offense will likely be charged as a felony. In addition, the prosecution will examine your prior criminal history to determine if you have any previous driving related convictions on your record. If you have a clean driving record and this is your first driving related offense, the prosecution will likely charge the crime as a misdemeanor.
2. Can I be charged with vehicular manslaughter if the person killed was a passenger in my vehicle?
Yes. As long as your negligent act caused the death of another, it does not matter whether that person was a passenger in your vehicle or the vehicle of another.
3. What does “ordinary negligence” mean?
In order to be convicted of vehicular manslaughter, you must have acted with ordinary negligence. Ordinary negligence is the failure to use reasonable care to prevent foreseeable harm to yourself or another. You act negligently if you do something that an ordinary reasonable person would not have done in the circumstances, or if you fail to do something that an ordinary reasonable person would have done under the circumstances you faced.
4. Is it possible to reduce the charge of vehicular manslaughter to a lesser crime?
Yes. If the prosecution is unable to prove all the elements of the crime, the charge may be reduced or dismissed in its entirety. Therefore, it is important that you have an experienced criminal defense attorney analyze the particular facts of your case and develop an effective defense strategy.
5. Can I face more severe penalties if I fled the scene of the accident?
Yes. Fleeing the scene of the accident can add an additional 5 years to your underlying sentence if you are convicted of vehicular manslaughter. In addition to proving the underlying elements of vehicular manslaughter, the prosecution must also prove that you fled the scene of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
6. How is vehicular manslaughter different from gross vehicular manslaughter?
While vehicular manslaughter is considered a “wobbler” capable of being charged as either a felony or misdemeanor, gross vehicular manslaughter is always charged as a felony offense. Gross vehicular manslaughter is charged as a felony because it involves an allegation that you acted with gross criminal negligence, which poses a higher risk of death or bodily harm than ordinary negligence.
7. If I have been charged with vehicular manslaughter, who should I call?
With offices in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside, Ventura, Victorville and West Covina, Wallin & Klarich has over 30 years of experience in successfully representing Southern California residents who have been charged with vehicular manslaughter. Drawing from extensive years of experience, we are available to answer any questions you have and are willing to go the extra mile in your defense.
If you are facing prosecution for vehicular manslaughter, call our talented and professional defense attorneys today at 1-888-749-0034. We will be there when you call.