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Vehicular Homicide

Aggravated Vehicular Homicide is the gravest offense in New York’s vehicle code. Carrying with it the possibility of decades in prison, vehicular homicide occurs when someone intentionally or wantonly commits reckless driving, the result of which is the death of another person.

Vehicular homicide is more akin to vehicular manslaughter but is considered a worse “aggravated” crime due to surrounding circumstances such as alcohol, the presence of minors and more.

Vehicular Homicide Lawyer in Nassau County, New York

A good lawyer in a vehicular homicide case may make the difference between walking free and 25 years in prison. It is critical to find the best legal representation you can before these charges destroy your life and livelihood.

Stephanie Selloni is recognized by the legal community through her admittance to reputable law associations such as the Nassau County Criminal Courts Law and Procedure Committee and the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NYSACDL).

The Law Office of Stephanie Selloni represents clients for traffic charges throughout Nassau County and Suffolk County including the towns, villages and cities of Riverhead, Garden City, Stony Brook, Westbury, Glen Cove, and Hempstead.

Call (516) 972-1212 or simply submit an online contact form for more information.

Vehicular Homicide in New York

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Vehicular Homicide Defined

New York Penal Law § 125.14 defines the offense of Aggravated Vehicular Homicide. A person is considered guilty of this crime if they engage in reckless driving, as defined by section 1212 of the vehicle and traffic law and commits vehicular manslaughter in the second degree as defined in section 125.12 of the same article.

If the driver meets any of the following circumstances, the crime is elevated to aggravated vehicular homicide.

Driving Under the Influence

Committing the crimes while operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.18% or more, as determined by chemical analysis of blood, breath, urine, or saliva.

Driving with a Suspended or Revoked License

Committing the crimes while knowing or having reason to know that the driver’s license or the privilege to operate a vehicle in another state is suspended or revoked. This could be based on a conviction in another state that would constitute a violation of New York’s vehicle and traffic law.

Prior Conviction for DUI

Having a previous conviction for violating the provisions of section 1192 of the vehicle and traffic law (related to driving under the influence) within the preceding ten years, whether in New York or another jurisdiction.

Multiple Fatalities

Causing the death of more than one person.

Fatalities and Serious Physical Injury

Causing the death of one person and the serious physical injury of at least one other person.

Repeat Offender

Having a previous conviction under specific sections of the law involving the operation of a motor vehicle, or having a conviction in another state or jurisdiction for an offense involving the operation of a motor vehicle would be a violation of New York’s law.

Child Passenger Fatality

Committing the crime while operating a motor vehicle with a child aged fifteen or younger as a passenger and causing the death of that child.

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Penalties for Vehicular Homicide

Aggravated vehicular homicide is classified as a class B felony, carrying severe penalties including a potentially lengthy prison sentence, substantial fines, and other legal consequences. The specific penalties imposed can vary based on the circumstances of the case and the presence of aggravating factors.

A driver convicted of aggravated vehicular homicide may face the following criminal punishments:

  • Up to 8.5 to 25 years in prison with a minimum sentence of 1-3 years.

The penalties for aggravated vehicular homicide are carried by indeterminate circumstances, which means that the aggravating factors play largely into what sentence is provided.

In addition to legal penalties, the driver may also be open to civil liability from the family of the deceased.

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Common Defense Strategies for Vehicular Homicide

Defense strategies for vehicular homicide cases vary based on the specific circumstances of each case. However, some common defense strategies that may be employed by defendants facing vehicular homicide charges include:

  1. Lack of Recklessness or Negligence: One of the primary elements of vehicular homicide charges is establishing that the defendant’s actions were reckless or negligent and directly contributed to the death. A defense attorney may argue that the defendant’s actions did not meet the legal standard for recklessness or negligence, or that other intervening factors beyond the defendant’s control caused the accident.
  2. Emergency Situation: In cases where the defendant’s actions were necessitated by an emergency situation, such as swerving to avoid a collision or responding to a sudden medical issue, the defense of necessity may apply. The defendant must demonstrate that their actions were reasonable under the circumstances and were intended to prevent harm.
  3. Faulty Equipment or Road Conditions: If the accident resulting in death was caused by mechanical failure or hazardous road conditions beyond the defendant’s control, the defense may argue that the defendant was not responsible for the accident.
  4. Intervening Causes: The defense may assert that intervening causes, such as the actions of another driver or unforeseen circumstances, contributed to the accident and were the primary cause of the victim’s death. Establishing that the defendant’s actions were not the sole proximate cause of the death may help mitigate liability.
  5. Challenging Chemical Test Results: In cases where the defendant is accused of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the defense may challenge the validity or accuracy of chemical test results. This could involve questioning the reliability of the testing equipment, the qualifications of the individuals administering the tests, or potential errors in the testing process.
  6. Violation of Rights: The defense may challenge the validity of the traffic stop, arrest, or evidence obtained by law enforcement officers, alleging violations of the defendant’s constitutional rights during the investigative process. This could include arguments related to unlawful search and seizure, Miranda rights violations, or improper handling of evidence.
  7. Causation Defense: The defense may dispute the causal connection between the defendant’s actions and the victim’s death. This could involve presenting evidence to suggest that the victim’s death was not directly caused by the defendant’s conduct, or that other contributing factors played a significant role in the outcome.
  8. Character Witnesses and Mitigating Factors: The defense may present evidence of the defendant’s character, background, and mitigating factors to humanize the defendant and mitigate the severity of the charges. This could include testimony from friends, family members, or expert witnesses regarding the defendant’s good character, remorse, or lack of prior criminal history.

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Additional Resources

New York Statute for Vehicular Homicide – View the original text of the New York statutes, including definitions and possible penalties.

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Nassau County Vehicular Homicide Lawyer in New York

Attorney Stephanie Selloni is a practiced criminal defense attorney throughout the hamlets and villages in Long Island. She is compassionate with her clients and aggressive in the courtroom. The Law Office of Stephanie Selloni has been recognized for her legal career and is a part of several esteemed law associations such as the Nassau County Criminal Courts Bar Association and the Nassau County Bar Association. Contact The Law Office of Stephanie Selloni, and speak to a reputable criminal defense attorney on your side today.

The Law Office of Stephanie Selloni defends clients throughout Suffolk County and Nassau County including Central Islip, Hempstead, Riverhead, Glen Cove, and Mineola.

Dial (516) 972-1212 to schedule a free consultation about your case today.

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