In Virginia, Vehicular Homicide Is in the Eye of the Beholder

Most car accidents are just that—accidents. The road was icy; a traffic light malfunctioned; a driver swerved to avoid an obstruction and wound up hitting another car. However, matters are much less clear-cut when a car accident involves a fatality—the operator of another vehicle, a passenger in either vehicle, or a pedestrian. In these cases, the authorities investigate the circumstances of the accident and determine who was at fault. And, if it turns out that the fault is yours, the district attorney may choose to file a vehicular homicide charge—a conviction which can land you in prison for a significant amount of time.

Most often, DAs will resort to a vehicular homicide charge when the driver at fault can be shown to have been either grossly negligent or have displayed a “gross and wanton disregard for life.” A distracted, single mom running a red light while her child is crying in the back seat probably won't be charged with vehicular manslaughter. However, a teenager chatting on her cell phone and plowing into a parked car may find herself subject to this charge. And, if that same teenager was found to have a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit, a count of vehicular homicide would be a near-certainty.

The important thing to realize about vehicular homicide is that this charge is often negotiable with the district attorney, especially in borderline cases where it's hard to prove gross negligence. That's why, if you have been charged with vehicular manslaughter in the state of Virginia, you need to consult an experienced lawyer from Jarrell, Hicks & Waldman, who will guide you through the legal process and do everything they can to secure the least possible penalty for your actions.

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