Few things have the potential to ruin your day faster than a car accident. After all, motor vehicle collisions can cause painful injuries and extensive property damage. Still, because car accidents are frequent occurrences, you eventually may have to deal with one.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, more than 3,600 Californians died in traffic accidents in 2019 alone. Sometimes, the drivers who cause deadly accidents face vehicular manslaughter charges.
Negligence or unlawfulness
To secure a conviction at trial, California prosecutors must prove each element of a criminal offense beyond a reasonable doubt. When it comes to vehicular manslaughter, the case often turns on whether the driver was acting negligently or unlawfully at the time of the deadly accident.
Negligent driving is simply doing something a reasonable person would not do, whether that behavior is legal or illegal. Unlawful driving, of course, means driving that violates the law. Drunk driving, speeding and tailgating probably fall into this category.
If you are facing criminal charges following a fatal collision, you probably do not have to blindly accept a prosecutor’s plea deal. Remember, there is typically nothing wrong with making prosecutors prove their case. If you believe they have insufficient evidence, it may be worthwhile to go to trial.
At trial, you may be able to exclude incriminating evidence. For example, if you can show officers made legal mistakes when administering a breath test, a judge may not allow prosecutors to present evidence of your blood alcohol concentration at the time of the accident.
Ultimately, because a vehicular manslaughter conviction has some serious penalties, it is advisable to explore all possible defenses before negotiating with prosecutors.