If you are involved in a fatal auto accident, you may be arrested even though you did not intend to kill anyone. In this situation, you could be facing murder charges under Arizona law that views driving your car—the deadly weapon—the same as wielding a gun or knife.
When the stakes are this high, you need support from a seasoned defense attorney. Grand Canyon Law Group has years of experience protecting the rights of those charged with criminal driving-related offenses. If you were arrested after a traffic accident where someone died, contact one of our Mesa vehicular homicide lawyers immediately.
Vehicular homicide is a serious type of driving-related crime that results in someone’s death. It is treated the same as any other homicide charge under Arizona Revised Statutes §13-1101, which categorizes the criminal offense by degrees of severity.
Motorists are charged with first degree vehicular homicide if they fatally run over another person with premeditation. However, these severe charges can also be brought if a driver causes someone’s death while fleeing police, as per Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-1105. First degree vehicular homicide amounts to felony murder, punishable by 25 years to life in prison. As such, Mesa residents accused of such consequential traffic crimes should contact a rigorous criminal defense firm as soon as possible.
To convict on second degree vehicular homicide, the prosecution must prove that the defendant killed another person by creating grave risk and acting with extreme indifference to whether they lived or died. Two reckless acts can amount to showing extreme indifference to life, such as any combination of the following:
A defendant convicted of second degree vehicular homicide faces at least ten and up to 25 years in prison.
For a vehicular manslaughter conviction, the prosecution must prove that a motorist grossly deviated from reasonable conduct, showed disregard for a substantial risk of fatality, and caused someone’s death through their recklessness. While second degree vehicular homicide generally means the defendant committed at least two reckless acts, manslaughter requires only one. Behavior that could bring this type of charge includes driving under the influence of drugs, drag racing, or texting while operating a vehicle. Those convicted of vehicular manslaughter face between seven and 21 years in prison.
Vehicular negligent homicide can be charged when a motorist goes against reasonable behavior in causing someone’s death but fails to understand how risky their actions are. One example of unreasonably risky behavior might be driving with unrestrained young children in the car. Those convicted of vehicular negligent homicide face prison sentences of four to eight years.
Unlike civil cases, which only require a preponderance of evidence, vehicular homicide is a criminal offense and must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt for conviction. Due to this, there are many mitigating circumstances that could be used in a legal defense against the prosecution’s case. A skilled local attorney who focuses on vehicular homicide cases could argue that:
To convict, the jury must be absolutely convinced that a defendant committed the alleged homicide. A persistent vehicle crimes attorney in the community could raise issues that cast doubt and potentially lead to exoneration. Accordingly, those accused of vehicular homicide should seek rigorous support from a legal team with experience handling similar cases, such as Grand Canyon Law Group.
Vehicular homicide is just as serious as any other homicide charge. You need an experienced legal advocate to defend your case and ensure that your side of the story is heard.
If you face criminal charges after involvement in a fatal car accident, contact a Mesa vehicular homicide lawyer immediately. The legal team at Grand Canyon Law Group is waiting to schedule your initial consultation.