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Vehicular Homicide Overview and Vehicular Manslaughter Legal Defense

Fatal Minnesota Accidents. Cases involving vehicular homicide are often very shocking and receive extensive media spotlight.  An average day or a fun night out can end with very serious charges, including imprisonment, fines, and license revocation.  One bad decision can spur a lifetime of devastating consequences.

Examples of vehicular homicide charges in Minnesota

  • A Minnesota semi-truck driver was charged with vehicular manslaughter when a 59-pound cement retaining wall block fell off of his semi-trailer and went through the passenger-side windshield of a minivan, striking and killing a 17-year old boy.
  • A man was charged and convicted of vehicular homicide after his Toyota Camry suddenly accelerated and slammed into another car, killing three members of one family.  After serving two and a half years of his sentence, he was released when it was alleged that the accident happened as a result of a flaw in the cruise control, which caused unintended acceleration.
  • A 23-year old U of M student was charged with vehicular homicide after striking two pedestrians who were walking on the street near a construction site where the sidewalk was blocked off.  The accident resulted in the death of one of the victims.  The student behind the wheel had a blood alcohol level of .164, twice the legal limit.
  • A 20-year old Minnesota woman was charged with vehicular homicide when she ran a red light at a Minneapolis intersection.  Her car plowed into another car at 60 mph killing the 39-year old driver of the other car.
  • A 24-year old woman was charged and convicted of 4 counts of vehicular homicide after running a stop sign and striking a school bus which overturned killing 4 students.  She was found driving without a license and is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence.

What is vehicular homicide? Roadways are a dangerous place and home to countless accidents everyday.  When accidents turn deadly, drivers may wind up facing serious felony convictions for causing the death of another human being.  A charge of vehicular homicide can be brought against a person who unintentionally kills another person as a result of operating a motor vehicle.  Common vehicular homicide cases involve drunk driving, substance abuse, reckless driving, speeding, texting while driving, or other kinds of grossly negligent driving behavior.  Under Minnesota law, a charge of vehicular homicide can also be maintained for fleeing the scene of an accident that resulted in death.

The consequences for an individual facing vehicular homicide charges are severe, including fines, imprisonment, license revocation, and costly insurance premiums.  The sentencing guidelines under Minnesota law suggest a five- to seven-year prison term if found guilty of vehicular homicide.  Minnesota law also recognizes the death of an unborn child and imposes a 48-month minimum sentence for causing the death of an unborn child.  Under state law, the maximum sentence for causing the death of a human being or the death of an unborn child is 10-years imprisonment or payment of a fine of not more than $20,000, or both.

What legal defenses are there for vehicular homicide? In light of the severity of the punishments and retribution for a vehicular homicide conviction, it is dire that an accused person seeks competent legal counsel to provide the best possible defense strategy to defend the conviction.  There are a variety of legal defenses available, including lack of negligence or gross negligence, causation, involuntary intoxication, insufficient evidence, and mistaken identity.  Proving lack of causation between the driver's conduct and the resulting accident is an effective legal defense.  The existence of supervening circumstances, such as a pothole in the road, defective car parts, or the actions of the victim or another party can break the chain of causation and result in an acquittal for the defendant charged.  It is possible to show that the accident would have occurred regardless of the defendant's negligence or conduct.

Experienced & competent legal representation is extremely important. If you've been charged with vehicular homicide, criminal defense attorney Carolyn Agin Schmidt has over 20 years of experience effectively and aggressively representing the rights of individuals convicted of serious crimes, including this one. Protect your rights and your future. Read about the advantages of choosing Carolyn to defend you.