Car accidents happen often on our roadways, and what turns a wreck into a crime depends on how dangerously one of the parties was driving moments before the incident took place. Perhaps one driver was under the influence of a substance that caused them to operate their vehicle in a poor or reckless manner. If someone dies in that car accident, law enforcement is likely to file a criminal charge against the driver who was found with drugs or alcohol in their system.
If this is a situation you are currently in, then it’s in your best interest to get help from a criminal defense attorney immediately. Whether you are faced with a vehicular manslaughter or murder conviction will depend on the circumstances of the incident and the evidence the prosecution has against you.
The prosecution may file for vehicular manslaughter or murder based on various factors. Usually, they will examine which charge they have a stronger argument for and file that case as such. It is important to remember during moments of panic regarding your case, that the burden of evidence weighs heaviest on the prosecution. The jury must be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the supposed crime and should reap the appropriate consequences.
However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do everything in your power to protect yourself right away. The sooner you meet with a criminal defense attorney, like a criminal defense attorney in Fairfax, VA, the more time they have to build a defense.
Vehicular Manslaughter vs. Murder Charge
The lines between a murder and vehicular manslaughter charge can be blurry, especially when the accused was found with alcohol in his or her system at the time of the crash. For the prosecution to prove that the accused caused the accident, had drank alcohol, and should face a murder charge, they will have to present proof that shows the driver acted with a blatant disregard for human life. They will also have to display proof that the BAC testing was done correctly and based on protocol.
All too often, law enforcement fail to perform a field sobriety or breathalyzer test fairly for the accused. You can be sure that your criminal defense attorney will investigate further if there are signs of misconduct on behalf of police. There is a chance that the blood test was taken too late, which means the BAC may be higher afterwards than at the time of the collision. Strength of evidence will be vital in whether the accused faces the consequences of a murder or vehicular manslaughter conviction.
The jury will be deciding whether the accused knew or should have been aware that by ingesting alcohol and driving shortly thereafter, that they ran the risk of causing a fatal car accident. The thought pattern of the accused leading up to getting in the car and driving will be taken into account and argued on both sides, between the prosecution and the defendant’s criminal defense attorney.
To find someone guilty of murder in a car wreck, the prosecution has to demonstrate that the accused possessed an intent to kill. In most DUI crash cases, it is a strong argument that an intoxicated driver doesn’t have the intent to harm others.
Thanks to May Law, LLP for their insight into vehicular manslaughter and murder.