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What Are The Penalties For A Vehicular Homicide Charge?

Wall New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorneys serving Monmouth County, Ocean County, Middlesex County and all surrounding NJ areas.

Vehicle Homicide Defined

In New Jersey, vehicular homicide is governed by statute N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5. Vehicular homicide occurs when a criminal homicide occurs from operating a vehicle or a vessel in a reckless manner. Recklessness is defined as a person acting by consciously disregarding a substantial and unjustifiable risk that death will result from their conduct. The risk must be of a nature and degree that when considering the nature and purpose of the conduct, as well as all the circumstances known to the individual, the conduct involves a gross deviation from the standard conduct of a reasonable person in the same situation. In other words, the prosecution must prove that the individual who is charged, drove their vehicle or vessel in a way that created a substantial and unjustifiable risk of death to another and did so by consciously disregarding the risk.

Additionally, the jurors may infer that the individual charged acted in a reckless manner, or in a way which created a substantial and unjustifiable risk of death to another if the individual drove in an intoxicated manner and or the defendant fell asleep while driving after having been without sleep for a period of 24 hours immediately prior to the deadly crash. Finally, proof that the individual was operating his or her vehicle while using a handheld cell phone will give rise to the inference that the individual was operating his or her vehicle recklessly.

Second Degree Vehicular Homicide

Vehicular homicide is ordinarily a crime of the second degree. This means that upon conviction an individual will face between 5 and 10 years in a New Jersey state prison. Additionally, a vehicular homicide conviction is subject to The No Early Release Act or N.E.R.A.  This means that an individual who is sentenced in a vehicular homicide case will have to serve 85% of their sentence before they are eligible for parole. For example, if an individual is convicted of vehicular homicide and sentenced to 7 years in New Jersey state prison, that individual will have to serve approximately 6 years before they are eligible for parole.

First Degree Vehicular Homicide

Vehicular homicide is a crime of the first degree if the individual is guilty of vehicular homicide due to intoxication and the crash occurs while the individual was on school property, in a school crossing or within 1,000 feet of a school zone. First degree vehicular homicide carries a penalty of between 10 and 20 years in a New Jersey state prison. Additionally, first degree vehicular homicide is also subject to The No Early Release Act. Therefore, an individual who is sentenced to 15 years in a New Jersey state prison, will not be eligible for parole for approximately 12 years and 9 months.

Defending A Vehicular Homicide Charge

There are various defenses to a vehicular homicide charge. Those defenses can include, challenging the reckless element, challenging the causation element, challenging the overall evidence, challenging the way in which the evidence was collected as well as many other defenses. Additionally, the individual who is 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.

Contact Us

If you would like to speak with one of our New Jersey criminal defense attorneys call our law firm or click on the chat tab. Our lawyers will take the time to meet with you and discuss all of your options. If you decide to hire our firm, our lawyers will mount an aggressive defense on your behalf.


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