If you or a loved one have been involved in a fatal crash and are being criminally charged, you need to contact a vehicular homicide lawyer right away. When the police and the victim’s family blame you for the crash, you could face both civil and criminal consequences in Pennsylvania, including time behind bars. You need an experienced attorney who can guide you through the process of defending yourself against criminal charges arising from a car accident.
Vehicular homicide is a serious, violent crime with harsh penalties. Retaining a qualified West Chester defense lawyer improves your chances of obtaining a dismissal or acquittal of the charges. If you’re facing charges after a fatal car accident in West Chester, Exton, Phoenixville, Kennett Square, Oxford, Coatesville, Downingtown, or anywhere in Chester County, contact Skinner Law Firm as soon as possible. Call (610) 436-1410 to schedule your free, initial consultation.
Pennsylvania law differentiates between homicide by vehicle (75 PA Cons Stat §3732) and homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence (75 PA Cons Stat §3735). Vehicular homicide—DUI, which many states commonly refer to as aggravated vehicular homicide, is a much more serious offense than conventional vehicular homicide.
A prosecutor can charge you with vehicular homicide if you recklessly or with gross negligence cause someone’s death while engaged in a violation of a traffic law or municipal ordinance, except a DUI.
Homicide by vehicle is a third-degree felony.
A prosecutor can charge you with homicide by vehicle—DUI if you cause someone’s death as a result of driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance and are found guilty of a DUI.
Vehicular homicide—DUI is a second-degree felony.
However, if you have a previous conviction for a DUI or felony traffic violation, a prosecutor will charge you with a first-degree felony.
In some instances, you may be able to avoid felony charges for unintentional vehicle manslaughter. Under Pennsylvania’s involuntary manslaughter law (18 PA Cons Stat §2504), a prosecutor can charge you with a first-degree misdemeanor if you recklessly or with gross negligence perform a lawful or unlawful act that causes another person’s death.
When a prosecutor wants to pursue vehicular homicide charges, contact a vehicular homicide lawyer immediately. Depending on the facts of your case, we may be able to argue for a reduced charge of involuntary manslaughter. The penalty for a first-degree misdemeanor is far less than for a felony.
A third-degree felony conviction for vehicular homicide can result in up to seven years in prison and fines up to $15,000. If the prosecution proves the collision and fatality occurred in an active work zone, the judge can sentence you to an additional five years in prison.
A judge can sentence you to an additional five years in prison if, you:
To fight against a third-degree felony charge, retain a vehicular homicide attorney as soon as possible. Attorney Skinner will fight for the case to be dismissed or to exonerate you in court. He also will prepare to pursue mitigated penalties upon conviction.
If a judge or jury convicts you of a second-degree felony for vehicular homicide – DUI, you must serve at least three years in prison. The judge must impose a consecutive three-year sentence for each victim.
The maximum term of incarceration for a second-degree felony is 10 years. You also can be fined up to $25,000.
If a judge or jury convicts you of a first-degree felony, then the minimum term of incarceration is five years, if you have one previous conviction. The judge must impose a consecutive five-year sentence for each victim.
If you have two or more prior convictions, the minimum term of imprisonment is seven years. The judge must order you to serve a consecutive seven-year sentence for each victim.
The maximum term of imprisonment for a first-degree felony is 20 years. You also can be fined up to $25,000.
Depending on the facts of your case, you may face decades in prison for vehicular homicide—DUI. The only way to defend against this possibility is to work with an experienced vehicular homicide lawyer in Chester County.
In addition to incarceration and fines, if you are convicted of either homicide by vehicle offense, you will face a three-year license suspension, and will not qualify for an Occupational Limited License.
Also, if you have a Commercial Driver’s License, you will likely find yourself out of work. You will lose your CDL and will be disqualified from driving a commercial or school vehicle.
When a prosecutor is pursuing vehicular homicide or vehicular homicide—DUI charges against you, there may be one or several possible defenses to the allegations against you. However, without a skilled lawyer’s analysis of your case, you may not identify the most effective strategy or be prepared to present it to a judge or jury.
To defend against vehicular homicide charges, we may argue you were not driving recklessly. Or, we may argue you were not violating a traffic law or ordinance at the time of the crash. If we can establish either, then the prosecution will be unable to prove each element of the case beyond a reasonable doubt.
When you face vehicular homicide—DUI charges, we will start by vigorously defending against the DUI aspect of your case. If we can defeat the DUI, then the prosecutor can not establish a central element of this offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
Depending on the facts of your case, we also may argue that someone else was driving your car at the time. You may not be responsible for the fatal accident at all.
We also may argue that the other driver may have been at fault—fully or by a significant amount.
If the police arrested you for vehicular homicide, it is imperative you hire a lawyer with experience on both sides of the courtroom. Michael J. Skinner, the founder of Skinner Law Firm, is a skilled defense attorney with prior experience prosecuting cases as an Assistant District Attorney in Chester County.
Mike Skinner aggressively fights for his clients’ rights and freedom. He uses his prosecutorial experience to pick apart the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and build a customized defense. He knows weak arguments and circumstantial evidence when he sees them, and he knows how to defeat them in court.
You are facing an uphill, emotional battle with a homicide by vehicle charge. In Chester County, PA, let an experienced attorney from Skinner Law Firm handle your case. We will customize a defense for your specific vehicular homicide charge. Every case is unique, and we never look for one-size-fits-all solutions. We will never leave you in the dark about what is happening in your case. We will consult you frequently to make sure we work toward your intended goal.