Vehicular homicide is an act of disregard that is considered to be a serious criminal offence. Only because a person could not care enough, another person loses their life.
Are you familiar with a situation like this? Did you lose a loved one in vehicular homicide? Or perhaps, you were the driver in the accident and are deeply remorseful.
Nonetheless, whether you personally faced a vehicular homicide issue or not, it is wise to be informed.
We hope this article will shed some light and give you essential information about vehicular homicide. After all, you never know when the knowledge could come in handy.
What is Vehicular Homicide?
Vehicular Homicide is a term used to describe an accident where a bystander or pedestrian might have died. The accident took place due to the negligence or recklessness of the driver. Vehicular Homicide is also known as Vehicular Manslaughter or Automobile Homicide.
For example, John is driving back home one night after a long day at work. He must hurry to reach home and decides not to stop or slow down in traffic.
Unfortunately, a passerby was crossing the road when the walk signal blinked on, and it was too late for John to slow down and hit the person.
What is Aggravated Vehicular Homicide?
An accident where another person dies due to a driver’s willful negligence is known as aggravated vehicular homicide. Despite knowing all the necessary safety precautions and rules, the driver chooses to drive recklessly, resulting in someone’s death.
For example, Linda and her friends might have decided one night to race around the town. They were drinking for few hours beforehand. Despite knowing they were under the influence and should not drive, they still chose to do so.
They drive pretty recklessly, breaking all rules and laws, without stopping signals or double-checking in intersections and so on.
A man might have been crossing the road through zebra crossing, and it was then Linda turned the corner and ran over the man. This is aggravated vehicular homicide.
Types of Homicide
Homicide is an act of violation, which is considered one of the most severe criminal charges. There are several categories of homicide that sometimes tend to overlap each other. Per the legal system, there are many types of homicides under each category.
Some of the categories and types of homicides are as following:
- Crime of Passion
- Felony Murder Rule
- Human Cannibalism
- Thrill Killing
- Negligent Homicide
- Vehicular Homicide
- Voluntary Homicide
- Mental Incapacity
- Justifiable Homicide
- Defence of Infancy
Types of Vehicular Homicide Charges
It is vital that if you ever are in a situation that is ruled as vehicular homicide, you need to contact and hire a criminal defence lawyer immediately. It would be best if you did not make any decisions or even talk to any law enforcement without a lawyer.
This is because there are various types of vehicular homicide charges. Each of these charges will draw up different kinds of cases. Depending upon the substantial pieces of evidence, the circumstances surrounding the accident, and the entire situation, you might not know or understand what you might be up against.
Thus, legal aid can walk you through and help you deal with the case
We have a list stating the different types of vehicular homicide charges.
Let us hope you will find the list as helpful as we did.
- Criminal Negligence
- Gross Negligence
First Degree Felony Vehicular Homicide
First-degree felony vehicular homicides are accidents that occur when the drive-in is under the heavy influence. They choose to drive away from situations or after breaking major rules and causing felony.
To save one felony, they end up going quite carelessly, resulting in other accidents too. Of course, it is believed, the driver does not have any malice aforethought but ends up making an impulsive decision in the heat of the moment.
Some instances during which a first-degree felony vehicular homicide occurs are when not careful around a school bus, attempting to flee from the scene of an accident or the police by driving recklessly, hit and run etc.
HV First Degree Felony Vehicular Homicide
If the driver already has a record of offence, severe action can be taken against them. For instance, the driver who caused the accident is a previous or regular violator of road rules and laws, and their license is revoked.
In such felony cases, the offence will be incarcerated for a minimum of a year. They can then be sentenced to prison time from 5 to 20 years.
Second Degree Felony Vehicular Homicide
Second-degree felony vehicular homicide is quite similar to first-degree felony vehicular homicide. The only difference is the former is considered slightly less offensive than the latter.
Second-degree felony vehicular homicide is the type of accident that occurs without any malice aforethought. Such a case usually occurs when one is attempting or doing an unlawful act, which results in significant recklessness or negligence.
Suppose you break the law and are being signalled to stop by the traffic sergeant. Instead of stopping, you decide to flee the scene. Naturally, you will be agitated and drive more irresponsibly than before.
However, it is possible that you will end up hitting more than one person then. This will then be ruled as second-degree felony vehicular homicide.
Misdemeanour Vehicular Homicide
Now, what is misdemeanour vehicular homicide? It is pretty simple to understand and quite similar to second-degree felony vehicular homicide.
When an accident occurs because of an absolute unintentional accidental coincidence, it is known as misdemeanour vehicular homicide.
For instance, you might have to speed up 2 km/h more than the set speed limit. This was perhaps for only five minutes. However, it was at that moment someone crossed the road, and you couldn’t pull the brake on time.
It is evident that you did not intend to harm anybody or cause any issues at all. It was perhaps the first time you crossed the speed limit. Inevitably you are guilty of the incident.
This will be ruled as a second-degree misdemeanour. Depending upon the available shreds of evidence and the case you build up, you will be given a fine or jail time for a short period.
Some examples of misdemeanour vehicular homicides are:
- Running a red light
- Driving distractedly
- Failure of yielding at a right of way
- Too fast driving
- Failure to maintain lane
- Not stopping at the stop sign
Penalty for Vehicular Homicide
The penalty for vehicular homicide is quite severe. If the defendant is convicted, they will face fine, imprisonment for years, to a life sentence.
Here is a standard penalty chart for vehicular homicide. It might change in accordance with the case.
- First Offence: Minimum CAD 1000
- Second Offence: Minimum 30 days’ prison time
- Each Subsequent Offence: Minimum 120 days’ prison time
Keep in mind these penalties mentioned above will possibly charge if the defendant has a strong case built up. It must be enough to convince the prosecutor to drop the charges. This is usually a rare occurrence, however, not impossible.
If the defendant is a habitual violator, the chances of winning the case are close to impossible. They might be convicted and given decades or life imprisonment. Therefore, we suggest consulting a legal aid you trust and know can fight for your case and you.
Defences to a Vehicular Homicide Charge
Let us say, unfortunately, you were the driver in a vehicular homicide case. So, now what? What can you possibly do to convince the law you are remorseful? Of course, you will need to hire a criminal defence lawyer as a first step.
Next, you must consult with the lawyer and be completely honest about your side of the story. You should not leave out a single detail as that could possibly make or break your case.
Therefore, give a detailed version of your side. If you had people in your car, they must also narrate the detailed version of their perspective of the incident.
You and your lawyer will need to collect all the necessary pieces of evidence, including all the documents, photographs, calls, texts, emails, etc. Once you go through them, you might find something to help back up your side of the story.
If everything works out as you and your lawyer plan, you might be able to convince the prosecutor to drop the charges. Or at least get out of it with minimum penalty and prison time.
Vehicular homicide in Canada should not be taken lightly. It is a criminal offence that could, quite literally, ruin and change the course of many lives.
Thus, being reckless and neglectful about road safety measurements and laws is not worth it. It is understandable sometimes you might be in a rush to be somewhere; still, you must take the required precautions.
We hope our article about vehicular homicide was enough to convince you to be more cautious with your own life and others too.