Homicide by Vehicle in PA
Motor vehicle accidents can be tragedies. But if someone was killed and you are accused of a crime, you need to take the situation seriously because a misstep when you’re charged with homicide by vehicle could forever change your life.
P.A. Homicide by Vehicle Laws
In Pennsylvania, homicide by vehicle occurs if a driver recklessly or with gross negligence causes the death of another person and causes that death while violating another law, such as speeding, drag racing, or even driving outside of their lane of travel.
For example, if you struck a pedestrian with your car and caused their death, and you did it while driving recklessly, you may be charged with homicide by vehicle.
In addition to homicide by vehicle, someone under the influence at the time of a collision that caused the death can be charged with homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence. This is a sentencing enhancement and is considered a second-degree felony.
Homicide by Vehicle Penalties
Homicide by vehicle itself is a third-degree felony under Title 75 Pa. C.S. § 3732 carries a potential prison sentence of up to seven years and fines as high as $15,000. If the accident occurred in a work zone, you might receive an additional five years to your prison sentence.
You may also be facing other related charges, including homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence under Title 75 Pa. C.S.A. §3735. This is a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison for each person’s death and $25,000 in fines for each person’s loss of life.
In addition to jail time and fines, you may also experience collateral consequences for homicide by vehicle conviction.
Some other homicide by vehicle penalties include:
- Suspension of your driver’s license
- Suspension or revocation of professional licenses
- Completion of drug or alcohol treatment
- Court-ordered mental health counseling
- Court-ordered anger management
- Community service
- Random drug or alcohol testing
- Probation or parole requirements
- Loss of federal student aid eligibility
- Loss of firearm rights
- Child custody issues
- Trouble with immigration or citizenship
- Installation of an ignition interlock device
What If You’re Arrested For Homicide by Vehicle?
When you are arrested for homicide by vehicle in Pennsylvania, it is critical to protect yourself. Far too many people who have been accused of these crimes find themselves dealing with worse penalties because they do not understand their rights.
Here’s what to do if you are arrested for homicide by vehicle:
- Do not try to talk your way out of the arrest
- Do not resist the arrest
- Do not give police permission to search you or your vehicle
- Refuse to answer police questions
- Tell law enforcement you want a lawyer
- Do not speak with anyone at the jail or prison about your arrest or case
Your PA homicide by vehicle lawyer will be work to discredit any evidence police may have obtained and determine what the best course of action is for your defense strategy, given the details of your case.
How to Defend Against Homicide by Vehicle Charges
There are many ways you and your lawyer can overcome the charges against you. To start, we may question the elements of the crime, prepare a compelling defense trial strategy, or attempt to negotiate a plea with the prosecutor.
Here’s a closer look at your options:
The Elements of Homicide by Vehicle
For the prosecutor to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt of homicide by vehicle in P.A., they will need to meet the four following elements:
- You acted with gross negligence or recklessly
- You caused a death
- The death occurred while violating a traffic law
- The violation led to the death of another person.
For homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence, they will need to meet the following elements:
- You’re guilty of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- You caused the death of another person
- The death was caused as a result of your driving under the influence
Pre-Trial Diversion & Homicide by Vehicle Defenses
Challenging that the prosecutor met the law’s required elements is a good place to start. However, if you are a first-time offender, the state’s prosecutor may be willing to work with your homicide by vehicle lawyer to obtain a lesser charge or reduced sentence.
You may be able to enter into a pre-trial diversion program, agree to house arrest, participate in drug or alcohol treatment, agree to mandated counseling, and follow the terms of probation instead of spending significant time behind bars.
If pre-trial diversion programs are not possible, your attorney will look into other options, such as:
- Illegal search and seizure
- Inaccurate or improper chemical testing
- Inaccurate or improper chemical test results
- Police misconduct
- Lack of probable cause
Only a careful review of the details of your case in the evidence against you will determine which defense strategy is most likely to produce a favorable outcome.
Get Help From a P.A. Homicide by Vehicle Lawyer
Your entire life could be altered if you are found guilty of homicide by vehicle in P.A. With penalties this harsh, defending yourself is critical.
Meet with an experienced P.A. homicide by vehicle lawyer at Fienman Defense to discuss the approach to your defense. Schedule your free, confidential consultation when you complete our contact form or call (215) 839-9529.