Vehicular Homicide is the unlawful killing of another person with a vehicle without the intent to kill while engaging in either reckless or grossly negligent conduct. It is also known Homicide by Vehicle and Vehicular Manslaughter.
This conduct is greater than the negligence you find in civil cases. Sometimes people lose their lives in car accidents but it is not a crime. In fact, one of the primary defenses is the accident involved in your charges is just that, and accident, not a crime
Vehicular homicide is either a Felony of the Second or Third degree.
Examples of Vehicular Homicide Cases We’ve Defended
There are two general types of Homicide by Vehicle Charges:
- Vehicular Homicide (Homicide by Vehicle) While Driving Under the Influence
- Vehicular Homicide (Homicide by Vehicle)
Homicide by Vehicle While Driving Under the Influence
This is the most serious charge of Homicide by Vehicle in PA.
The state can prosecute you for this charge if they believe you are under the influence of :
- Illegal drugs.
- Prescription drugs.
Yes, even prescription drugs given to you by your doctor can be the basis of a Homicide by Vehicle While DUI charge in Pennsylvania. In summary, the government must prove that it is the impairment that caused the accident which lead to the death.
Defense of Vehicular Homicide While DUI
There are many defenses to these charges. The first place to look at is the chemical test itself. The government uses this as their most powerful evidence in Homicide by Vehicle while DUI charges. Therefore, it is the first place that a defense lawyer must look into.
It is essential that a defense attorney knows how the particular method of testing works, how to get the records, read them, know what to look for and how to present the problems with the tests.
Every person who is charged with this offense, or their family who is looking for a criminal defense lawyer experienced in defending Homicide by Vehicle charges, must ask the lawyer they are interviewing if they know how to defend against the blood or breath test used by the government in prosecuting these cases.
If the lawyer says no or can’t articulate how these tests work that lawyer should not be hired.
Few lawyers know the testing methods and problems. It is not enough to merely hire an expert to defend the case. If the lawyer does not have the basic knowledge of the test he will miss things that are crucial to attacking the tests and he will not completely understand how to exploit what the retained expert is telling them.
In one of our recent cases, we were able to get the DUI and Homicide by Vehicle while DUI dismissed after we filed a motion challenging the testing of the blood and the use of retrograde extrapolation by the government. In this case, our client’s blood was tested 4 hours after the accident and it was a 0.03.
The government hired an expert to say his blood alcohol content was 0.11 at the time of the accident. The blood was tested at a hospital using enzymatic analysis also known as hospital blood. Well, hospital blood tests are not forensically viable but are just fine for medical treatment purposes. Because I understand hospital blood and actually have lectured on it twice nationally and had already reviewed this particular hospital’s blood testing method in another case, I immediately filed motions attacking the test procedures they used.
I also hired a local chemistry professor who has worked with me in fighting this hospital’s tests before. In addition, I filed a motion challenging the use of retrograde extrapolation. I presented my expert’s report to the DA. The day before the hearing the prosecutor agreed to dismiss the DUI and Homicide by Vehicle While DUI charges. This would not have been possible without my experience dealing with hospital-based blood tests gained through specific hands-on training and my national speaking experience on this topic.
How We Are Trained To Help You
At Manchester and Associates, we have specific training on all of the testing methodologies, pharmacology of drugs and alcohol and we have actually run the machines the government uses to test blood for alcohol and drugs. In fact, Brian Manchester has taken four different hands-on lab courses at Axion Labs in Chicago through the American Chemical Society and has taken a test given by the American Chemical Society and successfully passed it making him one less than 75 Certified Lawyer-Scientists in the entire country.
Only one other law firm to date in PA has a lawyer in it with those credentials.
Not only that but Brian Manchester regularly handles Homicide by Vehicle While DUI either individually or as co-counsel with other lawyers, who frequently either refer cases to him or ask him to be co-counsel with them.
The penalties related to being convicted of this charge are a mandatory minimum of three years in state prison. If more than one person lost their life, the three-year mandatory minimum for each deceased person must be run consecutive. The maximum per each count is up to 10 years and a $25,000.00 fine.
There are many defenses to these cases other than attacking the blood or breath test and merely being charged with Homicide by Vehicle While Driving Under the Influence does not mean you will be convicted, ,but the case must be properly worked up in all aspects to have a successful conclusion to the case.
Please contact Brian Manchester to discuss them.
Homicide by Vehicle in Pennsylvania also called Vehicular Homicide or Vehicular Manslaughter requires the government to prove that you were acting recklessly or grossly negligent and commit a traffic infraction that lead to the death of a person or persons.
It is beyond the civil negligence standard. Cases where Homicide by Vehicle are charged generally include speeding, driving while sleepy, weaving in and out of traffic, racing, running stop lights or stop signs, texting while driving, not paying attention to the road, driving too fast in bad weather, and other facts.
Defending Vehicular Homicide Charges
The key to successfully defending Homicide by vehicle in Pennsylvania is attention to details. Many things can cause accidents other than the operator of a vehicle.
For instance, is a person is speeding but someone dashes across the road without looking and they are struck and killed it would not be the driver’s fault. If a person suddenly changes lanes without signaling but they start to skid on loose rocks that fell off of a truck that drove by earlier and then the driver loses control and their passenger is killed, although there is a violation of a traffic law for not signaling there is no crime.
There are too many scenarios to mention in terms of how these cases can be defended. However, there is one thing in common:
A thorough analysis of the case, including gathering witness statements, weather reports, scene analysis, crash report analysis, and many more must be done and done quickly. One case that we recently had success defending against a charge of Vehicular Homicide was thrown out at the preliminary hearing because a surveillance video taken from a nearby trucking company recorded the whole accident and it showed that it was an accident but not a crime. Our client was accused of running a stop sign and he did not.
Please contact me for a thorough case analysis and strategy session if you or a loved one is charged with Vehicular Homicide. We want to help you.