Receiving a citation for driving under the influence is never a positive experience, but when it comes to following an accident where someone dies, it becomes a very serious criminal matter. The intoxicated driver will be facing multiple charges in most cases, and one of those charges could be vehicular manslaughter.
There are key factors that must be proven for the charge to be advanced to a conviction, and there are also certain issues that enhance the penalties under egregious aggravating circumstances. Courts are extremely aggressive when it comes to prosecuting vehicular manslaughter, and it always takes an experienced Virginia DUI criminal defense attorney like Vaughn C. Jones in Richmond to craft a solid defense in fighting the charges.
The fact that someone is charged with vehicular manslaughter does not necessarily mean the charges are applicable, but public concern over driving under the influence is such in Virginia that prosecutors often feel they can win a charge conviction even if the case is tried before a jury. Defendants should be prepared to see the case reported by local news media outlets.
The court actually prefers settling most standard DUI cases out of court for the most part for a variety of reasons, but the emotional attachment of the charge and public awareness that comes with the trial could be an advantage for the state attorney. Your attorney from the Vaughn C. Jones Law Firm will require the state to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt by meeting the specific standards set forth in Virginia law.
Legal Requirements for a Conviction
There are basic elements of a vehicular manslaughter charge that must be proven for a conviction. One is the element of alcohol concentration in the bloodstream. In order for a vehicular manslaughter charge to be valid, the defendant must have registered a BAC of .08 in alcohol intoxication cases.
Problems with this requirement can arise when the defendant is accused of driving under the influence of drugs because blood testing does not necessarily measure immediate concentration in the blood system at the time or shortly after the fatal mishap. This means that officer testimony could be the most damaging evidence being used to establish legal intoxication.
Certain individuals who are under prescribed medications could show a residual amount of impairment at any time when driving, and sometimes this situation can establish significant reasonable doubt. There must also be a violation of standard driving rules and regulations of some type, such as excessive speed or reckless, wanton endangerment driving. Other violations could include swerving in the road or use of a cell phone at the time. Distractions can cause drivers to reduce attention to the highway, and technically they can be illegal. Negligence by the defendant must be proven on some level in addition to being intoxicated beyond .08 BAC.
Penalties for Vehicular Manslaughter in Virginia
A standard DUI vehicular manslaughter case in Virginia can carry up to ten years of incarceration time if the BAC range is between .08 and point .149. It is typically a Class 5 felony charge. Fines can range upwards to $2,000 and extensive driving privileges suspension, which can be increased to a lifetime suspension in certain cases.
VA Aggravated Vehicular Manslaughter Penalties
Aggravated charges are applied when the defendant either measured .15 BAC or had an underage minor in the vehicle while driving under the influence at any level. In addition, a third DUI offense can also validate the enhanced aggravated circumstances designation, so your prior record can matter significantly with respect to incarceration and fine amount.
The maximum penalties under aggravated DUI and vehicular manslaughter are up to a 20-year prison sentence, $2500 fine, alcohol drivers education completion, and potential lifetime suspension of driving privileges.
Contact Vaughn C. Jones Law Firm
Vehicular manslaughter is clearly one of the most serious crimes in the state of Virginia, and prosecutors always go after convictions diligently. Defendants also always need comprehensive and aggressive legal representation who will work diligently to ensure that all legal defense rights are observed and reduce the potential penalties that will assuredly come with a conviction on any level.
Many times the evidence concerning intoxication level can be contested, and officer testimony can be questioned when there is no accepted blood-alcohol content evidence.
The attorney you choose can make a major difference in your case, and the case is about your future as much as your freedom. That difference maker in Virginia is DUI criminal defense attorney Vaughn C. Jones in Richmond.