Los Angeles Vehicular Manslaughter

California Vehicular Manslaughter Law

California law allows someone to be charged and convicted of vehicular manslaughter when the driver of a motor vehicle causes an accident by violating a traffic law, or by being negligent, or gross negligence, and another person dies as a result. It does not matter whether the driver is DUI or not. If you have arrested for a DUI and someone has died, then you need to immediately call Michael Kraut of the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers. The sooner you call Mr. Kraut, the sooner he will be able to bring his team of professional investigators to work at attacking the prosecutions case and evidence. Too often when a person dies in an auto accident, law enforcement jumps the gun and filed heavy handed charges to get you to plead to a state prison case. More often then not, there is substantial amounts of evidence that the police have missed which could be used to exonerate you form these charges.

However, if alcohol is involved, the prosecution may charge the drinking party with vehicular manslaughter. The prosecutor will rely upon the reports of the police and other investigatory agencies in determining what charges to file. Because these charges are often hastily filed or the police focus their attention on the person who is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it is important that a well qualified DUI attorney immediately be hired if you, or a loved one, is being charged with his offense. A DUI attorney who has a specialty in homicide cases will be able to bring in experts to conduct accident reconstruction, review and counter toxicology reports, and locate witnesses and document their statements as soon as possible. Any delay can result in a loss of evidence which could exonerate the charged party.


1. Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While DUI:

There are several charges in which the prosecution may charge a DUI suspect in which a person dies as a result. Gross vehicular manslaughter is one of the most serious charges that someone who is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can face. This crime is charged when the driver of a motor vehicular drives in reckless manner that is significantly more then ordinary negligence, and a person is killed. The penalty that a judge can impose is anywhere from probation to ten years of state prison for each person who is killed.

In order for the prosecution to prove this crime the following must be proved:

Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated (Pen. Code, § 191.5(a)) (Judicial Council of California)

  1. A person drove under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or a drug or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and a drug or drove while having a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher. AND,
  2. While driving that vehicle under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or a drug or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and a drug, the person also committed either a misdemeanor or a driving infraction, or any other lawful act that might cause death; AND,
  3. The person committed a misdemeanor or some infraction or lawful act that might cause death with gross negligence; AND,
  4. The defendant's grossly negligent conduct caused the death of another person.
vehicular manslaughter

The prosecution must state the misdemeanor, infraction or other lawful act that they are using as the basis of the charge.

The definition of Gross negligence involves more than ordinary carelessness, inattention, or mistake in judgment. A person acts with gross negligence when:

  1. He or she acts in a reckless way that creates a high risk of death or great bodily injury; AND
  2. A reasonable person would have known that acting in that way would create such a risk.

In other words, a person acts with gross negligence when the way he or she acts is so different from the way an ordinarily careful person would act in the same situation that his or her act amounts to disregard for human life or indifference to the consequences of that act.

The combination of driving a vehicle while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage and/or a drug and violating a traffic law is not enough by itself to establish gross negligence. In evaluating whether the defendant acted with gross negligence, consider the level of the defendant's intoxication, if any; the way the defendant drove; and any other relevant aspects of the defendant's conduct.

Great bodily injury means a serious physical injury. It is an injury must be more then just minor or moderate in nature.

The act is deemed to have been caused the death if it is the direct consequences of an action and had the action not taken place, the death would not have occurred. A natural and probable consequence is one that a reasonable person would know is likely to happen if nothing unusual intervenes. In deciding whether a consequence is natural and probable, consider all of the circumstances established by the evidence.

A person can die as a result of more then one action or cause. However, the court will only find that the person caused the death if their action was a substantial factor in causing the death. That means it must be more then just minor or trivial.

If you have been arrested or charged with a DUI offense in which someone has died in the Los Angeles or Southern California area, call Michael Kraut. Mr. Kraut understands the serious nature of this offense, how best to defend you, and how to resolve your case without you going to jail. Mr. Kraut has extensive knowledge of the law and the legal system. He has developed excellent relationships with law enforcement and law officials throughout the Los Angeles and Southern California.

For more information about the various defenses for your DUI case, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Michael Kraut at the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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