If you or someone you care about is suspected of driving recklessly and causing an accident that resulted in a fatality, you can be charged with death by auto or criminal vehicular homicide. A death by auto offense is a second degree charge with penalties that include serious prison time, license suspension, forfeiture of vehicle and monetary fines. The offense can be escalated to a first degree crime with longer prison terms if certain conditions are met.
Do not waste time in retaining an experienced, aggressive criminal defense lawyer who will immediately get to work in an effort to get your charges downgraded and your bail reduced. Jill R. Cohen is a former Camden County assistant prosecutor. As such, she has a unique understanding of how South Jersey prosecutors build their cases against people charged with death by auto. That knowledge, coupled with her more than 30 years of experience as a criminal defense lawyer, is your best chance at a positive outcome in your case.
As NJ law states, death by auto occurs when someone is killed by an individual driving recklessly. The vehicle can be an automobile or any other motor vehicle. The victim can be the driver or passenger in another vehicle, a pedestrian, a bicycle rider or a passenger in your car.
To be convicted for Death by Auto under N.J.S.A. § 2C:11-5, the prosecution will have to prove the defendant drove in a reckless manner at the time of the incident. If the defendant drove under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or drove while suspended for a DUI, there is a presumption that they were reckless. Additionally, there are certain behaviors that prosecutors categorize as reckless, including:
There are also scenarios that can impact the severity of the offense. If a vehicular homicide happens in any of the following situations and the driver is intoxicated or is driving while suspended for DUI, it will result in a first degree charge with harsher penalties:
Cases involving drugs require special defenses which Ms. Cohen frequently uses. In fact, she has been recognized by the NJ Supreme Court as a certified criminal trial lawyer. Among other things, she was honored by the state’s Top Court because of her professionalism, dedication to her clients and ability to build creative defense strategies for defendants facing even the most serious of NJ criminal charges.
Death by auto is normally a second degree charge, with an accompanying prison term of five to 10 years. Upon release from prison, the offender will also have their driver’s license suspended for a period of time, ranging from five years to a lifetime revocation. The harshest of all penalties are levied if the defendant committed the death by auto when driving while suspended or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
If convicted of a death by auto in the first degree, extra penalties are imposed on the offender. For example, first degree offenders are required to forfeit the vehicle that was used in the offense. A savvy criminal lawyer like Ms. Cohen may be able to negotiate for a reduction in penalties, including an agreement that would allow you to keep the vehicle by trying to convince the court it would cause hardship to the violator’s family.
Death by auto is a charge that is subject to New Jersey’s No Early Release Act (NERA). The NERA requires convicted death by auto offenders to serve at least 85 percent of their sentence before becoming eligible for parole. Plea bargaining is essential in criminal vehicular manslaughter cases. Ms. Cohen has relationships with the county prosecutors’ offices throughout New Jersey and she uses this to her advantage when plea bargaining.
If you or a loved one is facing a serious criminal charge in New Jersey, including death by auto, you need to immediately lawyer up! Pay attention to your rights; stay silent and request an attorney. Jill Cohen will meet you where you are and will get to work to prove your actions were not reckless.
Death by auto is an extremely serious charge. Anyone facing this charge should realize that there is a lot at stake, including jail time, driving privileges and exorbitant monetary fines. Get the advice you need today with an initial consultation that is no cost to you. The Camden County criminal lawyers at the Law Office of Jill R. Cohen in Haddonfield, NJ fight for the best interest of their clients, whether it be by plea deal or trial.
As an assistant prosecutor Ms. Cohen litigated complex motions for the State, was an acting Camden City Municipal Prosecutor, and indicted over 800 cases before the Camden County Grand Jury. Ms. Cohen handled hundreds of indictable/felony and juvenile cases and tried numerous jury trials, in areas such as drug possession and distribution, school zone violations, domestic violence, aggravated assault, fraud, burglary, robbery, child sexual assault, child physical abuse, homicides, attempted murder and other crimes of magnitude.
With over 30 years in the criminal justice system, Ms. Cohen has developed a great working relationship with members of the local justice system. Ms. Cohen uses her vast experience to get her clients the best possible results.
Ms. Cohen leaves no stones unturned when she builds aggressive defense strategies designed to obtain the best possible outcome for her clients.
The New Jersey Supreme Court’s Attorney Certification Program is designed to help the public make sound and informed choices when deciding to hire an attorney. While there are over 60,000 practicing attorneys in the state of New Jersey, fewer than 250 New Jersey lawyers have been recognized by the NJ Supreme Court as Certified Criminal Trial Attorneys. Camden County criminal lawyer Jill Cohen has been recognized as an NJ Supreme Court Certified Criminal Trial Attorney every year since 2008. To become a Certified Criminal Trial Attorney, Ms. Cohen received recommendations from her peers and judges throughout South Jersey.
Regardless of the incidents that led up to your arrest, every resident of New Jersey has the constitutional right to a fair trial. If you have been arrested or are being investigated, you need sound legal advice. Contact me today.