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What is Vehicular Manslaughter?

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Vehicular accidents are already horrifying situations, even without adding injury and death to the case. Being responsible for someone’s death is definitely most people’s worst nightmare. If you or your loved one were responsible for someone’s death while driving, there would be legal consequences to consider.

If you face criminal charges related to traffic accidents that resulted in a fatality, read on to learn more about what to expect and how to deal with it.

What is Vehicular Manslaughter?

In the most basic sense, a vehicular manslaughter charge can be brought against a driver whose unintentional accident caused the death of passengers, occupants of other cars, pedestrians, etc. 

The charge is usually appropriate when the driver is under the drug’s influence, which leads the driver to drive recklessly or illegally. However, different jurisdictions value different factors when charging this crime.

Vehicular Manslaughter in Canada came to be a crime when it was seen that many juries were reluctant to convict someone with the crime of Manslaughter, which is a more severe crime, for a traffic accident. Hence the crime of vehicular Manslaughter came to be in order to be a less severe penalty comparatively. 

Driving that can lead to Vehicular Manslaughter

The criminal code of Canada mentions the following offences that may result in a vehicular manslaughter charge:

  • Careless driving and speeding excessively which leads to a death.
  • Driving neglectfully, such as taking your eyes off the road or texting, resulting in the death of someone.
  • Failing to stop for police and subsequent actions.
  • Street Racing that may end up causing any fatalities.
  • Driving under the influence of substances such as alcohol.
  • A Hit and Run accident.
  • Driving while sleepy or falling asleep while driving.
  • Violating safety or street laws which results in death.

Penalties for Vehicular Manslaughter

When a traffic accident results in death, the police will investigate whether the driver at fault should face charges or not. If charges are laid, the case will go to the court where the defendant is innocent until proven guilty.

However, if proven guilty, since you are dealing with someone’s death, there is no typical sentencing. Penalties can vary depending on the situation and jurisdiction. 

Minimum sentencing for Vehicular Manslaughter in Canada is 2 years of jail time with a mandatory fine ranging from $2000 to $50000

Maximum sentencing ranges from 15 years to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole. However, in the case of life imprisonment, there needs to be significant evidence against the driver, including the presence of prior records. 

How to defend Vehicular Manslaughter charges

While defending a vehicular manslaughter charge is difficult for most cases, it is not impossible. If you and your lawyers can definitively prove that the following issues impaired your driving, you might have a chance to lower your sentence.

  • Unfavourable road environments such as bad weather and poor visibility.
  • Vandalized stop signs or broken traffic lights.
  • Wildlife such as deer or elk leading to errors in driving.
  • The actions of your passenger in terms of distracting or hampering your driving.
  • The actions of the victims behaving erratically, such as swerving onto your lane or running into traffic 
  • A mechanical failure that you had no prior knowledge about.
  • A pre-existing medical condition such as epilepsy. 

Another thing to consider is the guilt of the other driver. It is often the case that the other driver had much, if not the same, to blame for the accident. 

The driver may have played a part in the accident in the context of contributory negligence, where they are deemed to be partially responsible for the accident. And thus will be charged to a lesser extent.

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Conclusion

Many may say that an accident is an accident and that blame should not be assigned to anyone. Still, the law always tries to weigh the different factors that led to the incident in order to find a reasonable resolution. 

Although you may argue that your actions were not severe enough to be deemed as vehicular Manslaughter, it is often the case that you unknowingly did something to cause the accident, and it is up to the legal system to find out.

If you are being charged with Vehicular Manslaughter, you must seek legal support from an experienced lawyer as soon as possible to help you navigate through such a complex case.

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