New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer Fights for Those with Death by Automobile Charges
You are driving along after a long day of work and are completely exhausted. Due to your fatigue, you have trouble keeping your eyes focused on the road. Suddenly you are running a red light and end up killing an innocent pedestrian also on their way home. The sad truth is, death by auto situations are more common in New Jersey than one would think. There were almost 600 fatal crashes in New Jersey in 2017 and with the distractions of smartphones we have today, those numbers can increase. If you have made a fatal error while driving, Jill R. Cohen is here to help. She understands how devastating it must be for not only the family of the victim but for the individual who must live with the consequences of their mistake. Ms. Cohen can work together with you and help you get sentences and penalties reduced or help defend your innocence. Contact her today to get started!
Definition of Death by Auto Under New Jersey State Law
Under New Jersey Statute N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5, death by auto, also known as vehicular manslaughter, is defined as a crime that occurs when a driver kills someone else while driving recklessly, whether the victim is a pedestrian, cyclist, motorcyclist, or someone driving another type of motor vehicle. Even a legally viable fetus within a pregnant mother can count towards a vehicular manslaughter charge. Conduct that automatically proves recklessness include being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, falling asleep while driving, driving while sleep deprived, or driving with a revoked or suspended license for previous reckless driving behavior.
Death by auto can also involve aggravated vehicular manslaughter or homicide. Although rare, sometimes individuals will intentionally kill another using their vehicle. This would be upgraded to vehicular homicide as opposed to vehicular manslaughter due to the presence of ill intent, criminal behavior or heightened violent emotions. For a crime to be classified as aggravated manslaughter, there has to proof of the defendant exhibiting an extreme indifference to human life.
Degree of Criminal Charge Factors Regarding Death By Auto Offenses in Camden and Mercer County, New Jersey
Death by auto is considered to be a second-degree crime carrying with it a five to ten-year year prison sentence. At times, it can be classified as a misdemeanor charge in situations where someone was only a few miles over the speed limit and under an extenuating circumstance. Regardless of the criminal degree, after release from incarceration, a convicted individual in New Jersey will have their license suspended anywhere from five years to permanently depending on the severity of recklessness and on a case-by-case basis.
In the following instances, death by auto can be upgraded to a first degree offense:
- Driving a vehicle on school property or within 1,000 feet of school property
- Driving a vehicle through a designated school crossing
- Driving a vehicle through a non-designated school crossing or area but knowing that juveniles are present.
If charged with a first degree level death by auto charge, the individual must forfeit their vehicle until a verdict is reached unless a quality criminal defense attorney like Jill Cohen can prove that there would be serious hardship on the family of the defendant that clearly would outweigh any risk of poor driving conduct of the defendant.
Mandatory Term Imprisonment Penalty for Camden County, New Jersey Citizens Convicted of Death By Auto Crimes
In some instances of a death by auto conviction, one must serve a mandatory imprisonment term imposed by New Jersey state law before any probation will be considered. For these types of convictions, this is only the case in scenarios where the driver was driving drunk or under the influence of drugs at the time of the incident or they were driving with a license suspended or revoked. The minimum sentence to be served before parole eligibility is one-third to half of the imposed sentence or three years (whichever is the greater of the two).
Contact a Determined Death By Auto Defense Litigator in Burlington County New Jersey Today
A death by auto charge often carries with it serious jail time and fines due to the fact that it is usually either a first or second degree offense and involves the loss of life of the victim. Death by auto can include intentional versus unintentional killing, aggravating factors, and manslaughter charges based on the level of recklessness and irresponsibility as a driver. Attorney at law Jill R. Cohen can defend you and your rights in court and help fight to get your sentencing lowered to a less serious criminal degree or a less serious charge in general (vehicular manslaughter instead of vehicular homicide or aggravated manslaughter). Contact the law offices of Jill Cohen for a free initial consultation regarding your New Jersey death by auto case. Jill Cohen has been representing criminal defendants throughout New Jersey in Camden, Cherry Hill, Gloucester Township, Winslow, Pennsauken, Voorhees, Lindenwold, Haddon Township, Collingswood and Haddonfield.