Experienced Help When You Are Charged With Vehicular Manslaughter

If you or someone you care about is suspected of driving recklessly and causing an accident that resulted in a fatality in South Jersey, you can be charged with death by auto (vehicular manslaughter) or criminal vehicular homicide. If you are facing a vehicular manslaughter charge, I can help.

I am attorney Jill R. Cohen, and I will immediately get to work in an effort to get your charges downgraded and your bail reduced. I am a former Camden County assistant prosecutor. As such, I have a unique understanding of how South Jersey prosecutors build their cases against people charged with death by auto and other murder-related charges. That knowledge, coupled with my more than 30 years of experience as a criminal defense lawyer and my compassion for my clients, is your best chance at a positive outcome in your case.

What Is Death By Auto?

A death by auto offense in New Jersey is a second-degree charge with penalties that include serious prison time, license suspension, forfeiture of the vehicle, and monetary fines. The offense can be escalated to a first-degree crime with longer prison terms if certain conditions are met. As the 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, 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 if the defendant drove while suspended for a DUI, there is a presumption that they were reckless. Additionally, there are certain behaviors that New Jersey prosecutors categorize as reckless, including:

  • DUI/DWI, regardless of what substance was involved (alcohol, illegal drugs or prescription drugs)
  • Falling asleep while operating the vehicle
  • Operating a vehicle while sleep-deprived, causing the driver to weave, swerve, etc.

There are also scenarios that can impact the severity of the offense in New Jersey. 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:

  • Driver commits offense on school property or within 1,000 feet of school property.
  • Driver commits offense driving through a school crossing.
  • Driver was driving through a nonschool zone but had knowledge children were present.
  • Driver commits offense on the property used by schools.

What Are The Consequences Of A Conviction For First And Second Degree Death By Auto Charges?

Death by auto is normally a second-degree charge in New Jersey, 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 death by auto when driving while suspended or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

If the offender is convicted of death by auto in the first degree in New Jersey, extra penalties will be imposed. For example, first degree offenders are required to forfeit the vehicle that was used in the offense. I 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 your family.

Let’s Start Building Your Defense

Death by auto is an extremely serious charge in New Jersey. Anyone facing this charge should realize that there is a lot at stake, including jail time, driving privileges and exorbitant monetary fines. Call my Haddonfield office today at 856-754-5501 or contact me online to schedule a free initial consultation.