Fatal Crash In San Juan Capistrano May Result in Manslaughter Charges

A 21 year old man, a passenger in a Jeep, was killed after the driver reportedly ran a red light, sideswiped another car, went through a chain-link fence and ended up against an equipment shed in a middle school in San Juan Capistrano. The driver could be charged with vehicular manslaughter if it is determined that he did in fact speed through a red light as witnesses say he did.

Vehicular Manslaughter defined is basically the crime of causing the death of a human being due to illegal driving of an automobile, including gross negligence, drunk driving, reckless driving, or speeding. Whether a person is charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter or felony vehicular manslaughter depends upon the circumstances of the case.

In California, there are four types of vehicular manslaughter. They are listed here, along with the penalties typically imposed:

PC 191.5: Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, with gross negligence. The penalty can be up to 1 year in county jail, or 4,6 or 10 years state prison. However, one or more priors of this, or certain other vehicular felonies can result in 15 years to life in state prison.
PC 192(c)(1): Vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, without intoxication. The penalty is up to 1 year in county jail, or 2,4, or 6 years in state prison.

PC 192(c)(2): Vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence, without intoxication. The penalty is up to 1 year in county jail.

PC 192(c)(3): Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, without gross negligence. The penalty is up to 1 year in county jail, or 16 months, 2, or 4 years in state prison.

PC 192(c): Vehicular manslaughter is referred to as a “wobbler” meaning that it can be filed either as a misdemeanor or felony, depending upon the circumstances. Vehicular manslaughter acts, not involving drugs or alcohol, that may be punishable are: 1) Driving in an unlawful way; 2) Driving in a lawful but dangerous way, and 3) Knowingly causing an accident for financial gain. Here are some examples of these three acts: If a person kills another person while they speeding; texting or talking on a cell phone; hitting and killing a pedestrian in a crosswalk; and staging an accident that results in an unintentional death.

Because this is such a serious issue, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights. With proper, experienced legal representation, it may be possible to get the charges reduced, avoiding jail or prison, or dismissed all together.

If you would like to know more about vehicular manslaughter, contact Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney William M. Weinberg at his Irvine, California office at 949-474-8008 or at www.williamweinberg.com.