Charges of either vehicular assault or vehicular homicide are serious matters in Washington. Both are considered violent crimes under Washington law. If a prosecutor is successful in convicting a person of these crimes, the result can be years, even life, in prison. Those persons alleged of these offenses must seek help from an experienced criminal defense attorney now. The vehicular assault and homicide lawyers at Black Law stand ready to assist you and fight for you every step of the way.
What is Vehicular Assault?
A person commits the crime of vehicular assault if he “substantially injures” someone by means of either:
- Driving with disregard for the safety of others,
- Driving in a reckless manner, or
- Driving under the influence (DUI).
Let’s define a few terms for better understanding:
- “Driving with disregard for the safety of others” means an aggravated kind of negligence or carelessness, more serious than ordinary negligence. Ordinary negligence is acting in a manner which a reasonably careful person would act do under the same circumstances.
- To operate a motor vehicle in a “reckless manner” means to drive in a rash or heedless manner, indifferent to the consequences.
- A “substantial injury” (also known as “substantial bodily harm”) is a temporary but substantial disfigurement or impairment of any body part. It also includes the fracture of any body part.
In addition, “driving under the influence” means that a motorist:
- Is impaired by drugs or alcohol to the point that his ability to drive a car is lessened in any appreciable degree;
- Has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher; or,
- Has a concentration of five nanograms or more of THC per milliliter of blood.
A conviction of vehicular assault is a Class B felony in Washington. The crime is punishable by:
- Up to 10 years in prison, and/or
- A maximum fine of $20,000.
What is Vehicular Homicide?
Vehicular homicide is similar to vehicular assault. The main difference is that where an assault charge involves substantially injuring a victim, a homicide charge involves causing the death to the victim.
A prosecutor must prove the following in order to successfully convict a driver of vehicular homicide:
- The defendant driver caused the death of another person, and
- He did so by either driving with disregard for the safety of others, driving recklessly, or driving under the influence.
Vehicular homicide is a class A felony under Washington law. The offense is punishable by:
- Up to life in prison, and/or
- A maximum fine of $50,000.
Are there legal defenses to Vehicular Manslaughter/Homicide?
Luckily, a person accused of either of these crimes can raise a legal defense to challenge the accusation. A good defense can work to reduce or even dismiss a charge. While the facts of a case will determine the best legal defense, some common defenses to these crimes are:
- The defendant was not driving;
- The defendant was not intoxicated;
- The defendant did not drive with disregard for the safety of others or did not drive recklessly;
- The defendant’s driving did not cause the injury or death;
- The prosecutor cannot prove every element of the crime charged; and,
- The defendant was arrested after an unlawful search or seizure.
Please note, though, that it will take a skilled and talented criminal defense attorney to raise the most successful defense on your behalf. The attorneys at Black Law have the knowledge and experience that makes all the difference. They know the law regarding vehicular assault and homicide, and they fight for all their clients with zest and passion. The two offenses described above demand the help of a criminal lawyer. Contact our office today and get the real help that you deserve.