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Vehicular Manslaughter Attorney

San Diego Vehicular Manslaughter Defense Lawyers

Vehicle accidents can be disastrous, yet none are more tragic than when a loss of life is involved.  In San Diego, drivers accused of contributing to the death of another person while driving face charges of vehicular manslaughter.  “Another person” can include other drivers and their passengers, pedestrians, and passengers within your own vehicle.  Charges of vehicular manslaughter stem from a belief that you showed a certain degree of negligence.  Drivers facing this type of charge are typically suspected of contributing to the accident through careless behavior, such as driving while intoxicated, while distracted, while overly tired, or even failing to yield.  If you are facing charges of vehicular manslaughter, you are looking at serious penalties, including years in prison if convicted of a felony.

Vehicular Manslaughter and California Penal Code Section 192(c)

Under California Penal Code section 192(c), contributing to the death of another person while driving is a criminal offense.  Traffic accidents are unplanned, yet drivers suspected of negligent behavior can face serious charges for accidents in which another person dies.  Varying types of negligence contributing to vehicle accidents can include:

  • Distracted driving. This includes texting, but also encompasses distractions from children, pets, and other passengers.
  • Excessive speeding, racing, and other reckless driving maneuvers.
  • Drivers accused of vehicular manslaughter while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol face greater penalties than those who are not.
  • Causing a vehicle accident for insurance fraud or other financial gain.
  • Committing an Infraction. e. Failing to yield, or another lawful act performed in an unlawful manner.
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In cases of vehicular manslaughter, depending on the specific charge being pursued, the prosecution must prove the responsible driver’s negligence was either ordinary negligence (PC 192(c)(2)) or gross negligence (PC 192(c)(1)).  The prosecution will be armed with a team of law enforcement, investigators, and accident reconstructionist experts.  Level the playing field with a reputable team of your own.

California Penalties for Vehicular Manslaughter


Convictions for vehicular manslaughter carry a range of penalties in San Diego.  Depending on the circumstances surrounding a case, drivers can face misdemeanor and/or felony charges.  Drivers suspected of committing vehicular manslaughter due to reckless driving, and not due to being under the influence of alcohol/drugs, face less severe penalties than drivers suspected of DUI offenses where another person loses their life as a result of the accident.  Your prior criminal history (if any), the specific facts alleged in your current case, and the quality of your criminal lawyer all will have a measurable impact on the outcome of your case.  The penalties for conviction of vehicular manslaughter can vary based on aggravating circumstances, but could be as great as 10 years in a California State Prison.


Misdemeanor Vehicular Manslaughter

Drivers convicted of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter face up to one year in a San Diego jail, as well as numerous probation conditions.  Those convicted also face the potential for a driver’s license suspension or revocation, not to mention the likely prospect of civil liability.  However, the consequences for misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter convictions pale in comparison to those for felony convictions.

Felony Vehicular Manslaughter

Californians convicted of felony vehicular manslaughter face increased criminal penalties compared to those convicted of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter.  Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated offenses are always prosecuted as felonies, with significant time in state prison awaiting those who are guilty of the offense.

As stated above, PC 191.5, vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, threatens increased penalties for conviction.  If you are facing vehicular manslaughter charges of any degree, you simply cannot afford to be reactive to what the District Attorney or court offer you to resolve your case.  We understand how stressful the experience of facing criminal charges can be, and know the solution to regaining control of your future is to be proactive.

Defending Against Charges of Vehicular Manslaughter in San Diego


If you have been charged with vehicular manslaughter in San Diego, the prosecution will come at you with every available resource they have; and, believe us, they have all kinds of resources. How do you fight back? Here are some common issues that make a difference when defending a vehicular manslaughter case:

  • How can the prosecution prove negligence? What level of negligence can they actually prove?
    • Ordinary negligence versus gross negligence can be the difference between felony and misdemeanor charges.
    • Was the charged driver acting in an emergency situation when the accident happened?
  • What caused the death?
    • Was the charged driver’s actions a substantial factor in causing the death?
  • What really happened at the time of the accident?
    • The prosecution will use accident reconstruction professionals to recreate what happened and blame the charged driver. If these accident reconstructionists are not shown to be wrong or incomplete in their reports, then their conclusions will prevail. A defense expert should be retained to review the accident in order to challenge the prosecution’s conclusions.

Understanding your best defense, and helping develop your case in front of the prosecution, judge or jury, can mean the difference between a conviction and no conviction, misdemeanor or felony, and/or jail or no jail.  We understand the stress these charges can bring; from the worry of jail time to the guilt knowing that a person lost their life in the accident to the financial concerns over potential civil and criminal liability.  Let us help you get through it and past it. Schedule a case evaluation with one of our San Diego vehicular manslaughter lawyers!

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