New Jersey Vehicular Homicide Lawyer

You can be charged with vehicular manslaughter for killing a pedestrian, another motorist, or a passenger – even a loved one, in your own car.

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Vehicular manslaughter (also referred to as vehicular homicide) is the legal term for the crime of causing the death of a human being due to driving a vehicle recklessly. If you have been charged with vehicular homicide in New Jersey, contact the vehicular homicide defense attorneys at CC&N — we’re here to help.

Reckless Driving in New Jersey

In cases of vehicular manslaughter, the prosecution must prove that you were driving recklessly. Examples of reckless driving include speeding, weaving in and out of traffic lanes, or failing to obey traffic lights and signs. Reckless driving may also include operating a vehicle after failing to sleep for a significant period of time (that caused you to fall asleep or nod out at the wheel.)

The circumstances of the accident will determine if you are charged with a disorderly persons offense or indictable offense, but generally, if you were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you will most likely be charged with an indictable offense.

Vehicular Homicide Penalties

The penalties for vehicular homicide can be severe. Vehicular homicide is ordinarily a crime of the second degree.

Second-Degree Vehicular Homicide

Second degree vehicular homicide carries the following penalties:

  • 5 to 10 years in a New Jersey State Prison.
  • A fine of up to $150,000.00.
  • A Violent Crimes Assessment Fund Penalty of $50.00.
  • A License Suspension between 5 years and life.

First-Degree Vehicular Homicide

Vehicular Homicide can also be a crime of the first degree. Vehicular homicide is a crime of the first degree if the individual commits vehicular homicide while intoxicated and does so while in a school crossing or on or within 1,000 feet of school property.

First degree vehicular homicide carries the following penalties:

  • 10 to 20 years in a New Jersey State Prison.
  • A fine of up to $200,000.00.
  • A Violent Crimes Assessment Fund Penalty of $50.00.
  • A License Suspension between 5 years and life.

In addition, the crime of vehicular homicide is one of the crimes that fall under the No Early Release Act or NERA. The No Early Release Act is codified in New Jersey statute 2C:43-7.2. Under this statute an individual who is convicted of vehicular homicide will have to serve at least 85% of their sentence before they are eligible for parole. Additionally, the individual will be subject to 3 years of parole supervision for a second-degree conviction and 5 years of parole supervision for a first-degree conviction.

Wrongful Death Civil Lawsuit

In addition to fines and jail time you may also be subject to a wrongful death civil lawsuit. Even if you are not convicted of a crime, New Jersey law allows the victims’ family to sue in civil court to recover the cost of medical expenses, loss of consortium (companionship), lost wages, and damages for pain and suffering.

Defending a Vehicular Homicide Charge

There are various defenses to a vehicular homicide charge. Those defenses include challenging the following:

  • The reckless element
  • The causation element
  • The overall evidence
  • The way in which the evidence was collected

Additionally, the individual charged may wish to retain their own experts to recreate the accident scene or testify about intoxication. The lawyers at our firm have had success defending vehicular homicide cases. In fact, our lawyers recently obtained a not-guilty verdict in a high-profile vehicular homicide trial.