Every year, a significant number of people are killed in car, truck, motorcycle, bicycle, or pedestrian accidents. In most cases, the driver did not intend to cause any harm. Even so, the police may make an arrest after a vehicle collision that results in the death of a person. Under Arizona’s manslaughter laws, it is a felony to recklessly cause the death of another.
If you are facing criminal charges after a crash, reach out to a Scottsdale vehicular homicide lawyer as soon as possible. The tenacious attorneys at Grand Canyon Law Group can explain the state’s laws concerning vehicular homicide, investigate the collision, and fight to protect your future throughout the legal process.
For the most part, criminal offenses contain two elements: A defendant must commit a criminal act, and they must do so with the intent to cause harm. However, state law concerning fatal car crashes is an exception to this rule.
According to Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-1103, a driver can face felony criminal charges if their recklessness results in a fatal accident. The statute specifically states that anyone who acts recklessly and causes the death of another is guilty of manslaughter. This creates a low bar for prosecutors in court. If a defendant causes a car accident simply by not yielding when required, and the incident results in a death, this may be sufficient evidence for a conviction.
The statute categorizes manslaughter as a Class 2 dangerous felony. Even if a person has no prior felony convictions and mitigating factors exist, a judge must issue a minimum sentence of seven years. Aggravating factors may extend the sentence to as long as 21 years. A Scottsdale attorney can further explain the state’s manslaughter laws and the potential penalties for a conviction.
The state’s broad definition of manslaughter makes mounting a defense against these charges challenging. However, there are several potential strategies our vehicular homicide lawyers in Scottsdale could use. One option is to challenge the recklessness of a defendant’s driving prior to the collision. While a prosecutor may pursue manslaughter charges after something as simple as running a red light or speeding, a jury may not consider these actions reckless according to the legal definition.
Alternatively, defenses can center around whether a collision was truly the cause of the person’s death or whether the defendant was involved in an emergency at the time of the incident. The skilled lawyers at our firm will develop a defense that best fits the specific facts of the vehicular homicide case.
Determining fault following a car, truck, motorcycle, or pedestrian accident is usually a matter for civil courts. However, if the incident results in someone’s death, the police may charge a driver with manslaughter. This applies even if the defendant did not mean to cause any harm.
After a fatal car accident, you need immediate legal representation to protect your future and way of life. A Scottsdale vehicular homicide lawyer can explain the state’s manslaughter laws and how they function in court. One of our experienced attorneys can then craft a defense that contests a prosecutor’s allegations and creates reasonable doubt in the jurors’ minds. Contact Grand Canyon Law Group today to begin discussing your case.