If you were behind the wheel during an accident that claimed the life of another person, it can feel like your life will never be the same. You might be dealing with a great deal of guilt and trauma, even if you weren’t criminally responsible for the accident. You could be unsure of how to begin building your legal defense, too.
If you’re facing charges of vehicular manslaughter in or around Philadelphia, our criminal defense lawyers can work to dismiss or reduce your charges. At the Law Offices of M.J. Snyder, our Philadelphia, PA, vehicular manslaughter defense lawyer can handle your case from start to finish.
What Constitutes Vehicular Manslaughter in Pennsylvania?
Unlike other states that have one charge which covers the accidental killing of another person while driving, Pennsylvania splits this up into the charges of vehicular manslaughter and vehicular homicide.
The legal term for vehicular manslaughter is Homicide by Vehicle, and it covers any accidents whose primary cause was either gross negligence or recklessness on the at-fault driver’s part.
Another charge related to Vehicular Manslaughter is Homicide by Vehicle While Driving Under the Influence. This charge covers all accidents where the main contributing factor in the accident was driver intoxication, although recklessness and gross negligence can, of course, also play a part.
As you might expect, Homicide by Vehicle is a less severe charge than Homicide by Vehicle while Driving Under the Influence. Even so, it’s still a felony charge which could have ranging effects on your life that may last for years to come.
What Are Some of the Consequences of a Vehicular Manslaughter Conviction?
Vehicular Manslaughter is covered under PA Title 75 § 3732. The law specifically sanctions anyone who has caused the death of someone else “recklessly or with gross negligence” while also violating another applicable Pennsylvania traffic law. This burden of proof falls on the state and gives your attorney opportunities to contest specific elements of the charges.
For example, your lawyer may be able to successfully argue that the accident was the result of unfortunate but legal action, such as a medical emergency or because of another driver’s reckless or negligent behavior.
Vehicular manslaughter is what’s known as a third-degree felony. This is the lowest level you can get in the felony range, but it does still carry with it some serious consequences, such as maximum sentencing of seven years in jail and up to $15,000 in fines. Along with these serious sanctions, you could also have your license taken away for up to three years after your conviction.
What Are Some Ways to Fight a Vehicular Manslaughter Conviction?
Even if things seem hopeless for you right now, that doesn’t mean that you are out of options. We’ve handled a large number of vehicular manslaughter cases over the years. Along the way, we have employed a variety of defense strategies that have secured favorable outcomes for our clients.
The first and most important thing to remember is that you are innocent until proven guilty. In order to prove this guilt, the prosecution has a number of burdens to first overcome. They must prove to the jury that you either acted with gross negligence or recklessness at the time of the crash.
Next, they have to prove that you were directly at fault for this death and that no other factors caused the decedent’s death. They will also have to prove that you were violating some type of traffic law at the time of the crash, and they’ll finally have to prove that it was that specific traffic law violation that led to the other driver’s death.
Reasonable Doubt Can Be All You Need for a Successful Outcome
If all of these things cannot be proven, or if sufficient reasonable doubt can be introduced in any of those points, you could either see your case thrown out or enjoy an acquittal following your trial.
In either case, this would allow you to avoid the stigma and social effects of having a felony conviction, such as difficulty finding housing or keeping gainful employment. You’ll also be able to continue your life knowing that you can now put this matter behind you.
Even if your case does go to trial, your attorney can advocate on your behalf and work to secure lighter sentencing for you by negotiating a favorable plea agreement. Our vehicular manslaughter defense lawyers use every avenue available to ensure that you can avoid the worst of the legal consequences you might otherwise face on your own.
Why Go With the Law Offices of M.J. Snyder for Your Vehicular Manslaughter Case?
Here at the Law Offices of M.J. Snyder, our primary goal is to provide zealous advocacy for all those in need. We do all we can to mount a successful legal defense, with the ultimate goal of getting your charges dropped before ever stepping foot in a courtroom.
We pride ourselves on our accessibility, and we put that into action by promptly getting back to our clients and making ourselves available over the phone, in person, or virtually.
We believe that an attorney needs to operate on transparency and honesty, and that’s why our process begins with a free consultation where one of our lawyers can talk with you and get a sense of what happened, as well as what to expect going forward.
Contact Our Philadelphia, PA, Vehicular Manslaughter Defense Lawyers and Get Your Free Consultation
Being charged with vehicular manslaughter doesn’t have to mean the end of your life. You still have to take your charges seriously and begin working on your defense immediately. Our defense attorneys can work toward the best possible outcome in your case.
Once you’re ready for your free consultation, get in touch with us here at the Law Offices of M.J. Snyder.