Vehicular Homicide

One of the more serious Title 40 offenses is Homicide by Vehicle.  There are a number of ways in which one can commit the offense, and some of those ways will move the offense from a misdemeanor to a felony.

First Degree Felony Vehicular Homicide

"Any person who, without malice aforethought, causes the death of another person through the violation of subsection (a) of Code Section 40-6-163Code Section 40-6-390 or 40-6-391, or subsection (a) of Code Section 40-6-395 commits the offense of homicide by vehicle in the first degree and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than three years nor more than 15 years."

The elements can be listed as:

  • without malice aforethought
  • causes the death of another person
  • violation of:
    • passing a school bus which is stopped on the highway with its visual signals active,
    • reckless driving,
    • DUI or
    • misdemeanor fleeing and attempting to elude.

A conviction of this offense is a felony and carries a sentencing range of three to fifteen years.

Without Malice Aforethought

Basically, this means that there is not evidence that the offense was actually murder.  The actor did not have the intention, or mens rea, to cause the death of another person.  The offense of vehicular homicide does not require the proof of intent.  

Causes the Death of Another Person

The actions of the person must be a substantial factor in causing the death of another person.  The negligence of another person, including the victim, does not prevent the charge from applying to a driver who had a substantial role in causing the death.  The defendant must be shown to be the legal or proximate cause of the death, meaning that the defendant driver played a substantial role in bringing about or causing the injury or damage, and that injury or damage was either a direct result or a reasonably probable consequence of the act.  

Violation of Specified Statutes

In order to qualify for prosecution as a felony, the underlying traffic violation must be one of those listed:  passing a stopped school bus, reckless driving, DUI or misdemeanor fleeing and attempting to elude.

HV First Degree Felony Vehicular Homicide

An alternate method of establishing the offense of felony homicide by vehicle occurs when the driver causing the death has been previously declared a habitual violator  and the license is still in revocation.  That offense is punishable with a sentencing range of 5 to 20 years.  It has a minimum mandatory incarceration period of one year.

Second Degree Felony Vehicular Homicide

"Any driver of a motor vehicle who, without malice aforethought, causes an accident which causes the death of another person and leaves the scene of the accident in violation of subsection (b) of Code Section 40-6-270 commits the offense of homicide by vehicle in the first degree and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than three years nor more than 15 years."

Leaving the scene of a wreck where a person has died is itself a felony punishable by three to 15 years if the driver who leaves the scene if the wreck was the proximate cause of the death.

Misdemeanor Vehicular Homicide

"Any person who causes the death of another person, without an intention to do so, by violating any provision of this title other than subsection (a) of Code Section 40-6-163, subsection (b) of Code Section 40-6-270Code Section 40-6-390 or 40-6-391, or subsection (a) of Code Section 40-6-395 commits the offense of homicide by vehicle in the second degree when such violation is the cause of said death and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished as provided in Code Section 17-10-3."

Misdemeanor homicide by vehicle involves the cause of a death by a traffic violation other than those listed for first or second degree felony vehicular homicide.  So, speeding, running a stop sign, failure to yield, and any other minor traffic offense can give rise to a homicide charge if the violation was the substantial cause of the injuries that brought about the death.

Commitment

Black law black logo

Dedicated to getting you the best possible result in your case.

Consultations

We provide brief no charge consultations for new criminal, traffic and DUI cases. Fees may be charged for consultations or case reviews for post-judgment matters including sex offender issues.

141 Savannah St W
Ste B

Toccoa, GA 30577
706-282-4696
706-282-4694 (fax)
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu: 08:30am - 05:30pm
Fri: 08:30am - 12:00pm