Operating any motor vehicle is a dangerous proposition. Every year, thousands of people are killed in car, truck, motorcycle, bicycle, or pedestrian accidents. In most cases, the driver of the at-fault vehicle did not intend to cause any harm. It is a sad fact that many deaths that result from these incidents are no more than accidents.
Even so, the laws in Washington DC allow police to make an arrest after an accident that results in the death of a person. The District’s negligent homicide laws state that it is a felony to be at fault in an accident that results in the death of another person. Because of this, the resulting punishments can be severe and you should reach out to an experienced traffic attorney immediately.
A Washington DC vehicular homicide lawyer may be able to help you if you are at-fault in an accident that resulted in a death. They can work with you to examine the District’s laws concerning vehicular homicide, to help to investigate the crash, and to protect your future in court.
For the most part, criminal offenses contain two elements. A defendant must commit the criminal act, and they must possess the intent to cause harm. However, the District’s vehicular homicide statutes are an exception to this rule.
According to D.C. Code §50-2203.01, known as negligent homicide, an at-fault motorist in an accident can face felony criminal charges if the accident results in a death. In fact, the statute specifically states that any person who acts in a careless, reckless, or negligent manner and causes a death is guilty of a crime.
In addition, the statute goes on to say that this does not include any willful or wanton action. In short, people at-fault in an accident can face serious criminal charges.
This creates a very low bar for prosecutors in court. If a defendant is at-fault in a car accident by simply not yielding when required, and the incident results in a death, this may be sufficient evidence for a conviction. These are felony charges where the maximum prison term is up to five years. Additionally, the court may impose a fine of up to $250,000 because the incident resulted in a death. A Washington DC vehicular homicide lawyer could help to explain the Districts negligent homicide laws and how they can bring severe penalties after an accident.
Negligent homicide is a rare example of a statute where prosecutors can charge a defendant with a crime following an accident. However, D.C. Code §50-2203.02 also states that negligent homicide is a lesser included offense to manslaughter charges. Manslaughter applies when police believe that a death was the result of an intentional act that lacked any sort of plan. For example, manslaughter involving the use of a car could include a death that is the result of a road-rage incident.
Many Washington DC vehicular homicide cases begin as manslaughter charges. However, it may quickly become apparent that the defendant did not mean to cause any harm. Still, since a death did occur in an accident, the prosecutor in the case can still charge the defendant with negligent homicide.
A Washington DC vehicular homicide lawyer could help people to understand the difference between these statues and how they interact with each other.
Determining fault following a car, truck, motorcycle, or pedestrian accident is usually a matter for civil courts. However, if the incident results in a death, Washington DC laws allow police to charge a driver with negligent homicide. This applies even though the defendant did not mean to cause any harm. Something as simple as tailgating could cause an accident that results in a death and subsequent criminal charges.
A Washington DC vehicular homicide lawyer could help you if you have been involved in a car accident that resulted in a death. They can help to explain the negligent homicide and manslaughter laws and how they interact in court. They could then work to create a defense that contests a prosecutor’s allegations that you were at fault for the accident. Contact a Washington DC vehicular homicide lawyer today to learn more.
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