What is Vehicular Manslaughter?

Charlotte DWI Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “If I simply intend to plead guilty, why do I need a lawyer?”


Manslaughter is a serious criminal charge in North Carolina. Manslaughter is a crime that may be charged when someone is responsible for the death of another. There are three main types of manslaughter in North Carolina, including voluntary, involuntary, and vehicular. Voluntary manslaughter occurs when a person intends to cause harm to another due to negligence or recklessness. Involuntary manslaughter is when a person unintentionally causes the death of another. There is a separate charge for a death that occurs due to a vehicle accident. This charge is called vehicular manslaughter.


open-casket-wrongful-death-Charlotte-Monroe-Mooresville-Criminal-defense-lawyer-300x219Vehicular Manslaughter in North Carolina


Vehicular manslaughter is also called death by vehicle. North Carolina, unlike some other states, designates a separate crime for vehicular manslaughter. North Carolina law defines vehicular homicide as killing a person while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or while violating traffic laws. Some of the common causes of vehicular homicide charges include texting while driving, driving while under the influence, speeding, failing to obey a traffic light, and many others. If someone is killed as the result of a traffic accident, law enforcement will review the situation and determine whether there is reason to believe that the driver who caused the accident was reckless or negligent. If so, they may charge the driver with vehicular manslaughter.


Is Vehicular Manslaughter a Misdemeanor or Felony?


Vehicular manslaughter is a crime that may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Certainly, a misdemeanor charge is preferable over a felony charge. Misdemeanor death by vehicle is a Class A-1 offense with a maximum jail sentence of 150 days. Vehicular homicide as a felony is a Class D offense which carries a maximum penalty of 120 months in jail if convicted. In some cases, the offense may be considered an aggravated felony. This happens when the defendant has a prior DUI or DWI conviction and is a Class D felony. Aggravated death by vehicle has a penalty of up to 160 months in prison upon conviction. Penalties may also include fines and probation.


Defending Vehicular Manslaughter Charges


There is a wide range of charges and penalties that apply to vehicular homicide. The prosecutor must be able to prove the charges through evidence in the case. If you are charged with manslaughter it is best to seek guidance from a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. There are many options for a vigorous defense in your case. Your lawyer will review the evidence and discuss the matter to determine how to best defend your case. If the evidence is weak, it may be possible to discuss a reduction of charges or the elimination of charges completely. The best results often come with assistance from a skilled attorney who understands the criminal process. Sometimes, a plea deal is possible that allows you to plead guilty to lesser charges that are not as serious.


If you were charged with manslaughter, do not delay. Please contact us today to get a phone, video or in-person consultation by calling at (704) 370-2828 to speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers with offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today or find additional resources here.







The criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC make it their mission to zealously defend their clients on a wide range of criminal matters at both the state and federal levels. These matters may include any charge from traffic offenses; DWI/DUI; drug charges (from simple possession to possession with intent to distribute and trafficking); gun permit denials; weapons offenses; and property crimes (larceny, breaking and entering, robbery, fraud, embezzlement, white collar offenses); to sexually related offenses (indecent exposure; sexual assault, crimes against nature, removal from sex offender registry); and violent crimes (domestic violence; assault; manslaughter; homicide, murder). Other legal issues that Arnold & Smith, PLLC criminal clients may be facing include restraining orders, restraining order and probation violations, expungements; appeals; and immigration issues related to criminal charges. Our criminal defense attorneys are passionate about ensuring that individuals empower themselves by being informed about their constitutional rights, and stand at the ready to fight in the defense of those facing criminal charges.







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