There are three types of motor vehicle homicide:

  • Felony Motor Vehicle Homicide
  • Misdemeanor Motor Vehicle Homicide
  • Vehicular Manslaughter

All three forms of motor vehicle homicide share some “elements” that must be proved by the government at trial. 

In all three, the government must prove that a defendant was:

  • operating a motor vehicle
  • that she was doing so on a “public way”
  • and that someone was killed as a direct result of some combination of
    • negligence
    • recklessness and/or
    • under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

Misdemeanor Motor Vehicle Homicide

Misdemeanor Motor Vehicle Homicide is punishable by a maximum sentence of 2.5 years in a house of correction and 30 days of the sentence is in a minimum mandatory portion.

To prove misdemeanor motor vehicle homicide, the Commonwealth has to prove that someone was driving negligently OR recklessly OR under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol when the accident which killed someone happened. 

Upon conviction, the defendant’s driver’s license is suspended for 15 years.

Felony Motor Vehicle Homicide

Felony Motor Vehicle Homicide is punishable by a maximum sentence of 15 years in state prison, with a minimum mandatory portion of 1 year.

To prove felony motor vehicle homicide, the Commonwealth must prove that the defendant was under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol AND that he drove negligently or recklessly when the accident that killed someone occurred. 

The same 15 year license suspension applies to someone convicted of felony motor vehicle homicide.

Vehicular Manslaughter

Vehicular Manslaughter is punishable by a maximum sentence of 20 years in state prison.

To prove manslaughter by motor vehicle, the government must show that the defendant’s conduct in driving his motor vehicle was “wanton and reckless,” and that his conduct caused the accident that killed someone. 

Essentially, this charge is a lesser included charge of murder. Wanton and reckless conduct is an intentional act or failure to act, creating a high degree of likelihood that substantial harm will result to another.

Recent Motor Vehicle Homicide Case

I represented a young man who was involved in an accident where he struck a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Tragically, that gentleman died some weeks later.

The case was presented to a clerk magistrate for what is known as a “show-cause” hearing. The police presented witnesses, and I was able to cross examine them at that very early stage.

I was able to bring out that my client’s speed was below the limit, there was no alcohol or drug ingestion, my client was not text messaging and that the crosswalk where it happened was notorious for being unsafe. 

The clerk STILL issued the complaint for misdemeanor motor vehicle homicide. Once in court, the prosecutor reviewed what I had done at the show cause hearing and agreed to dismiss the motor vehicle homicide charge and let my client plead to a charge of negligent operation.

He avoided a one year minimum mandatory jail sentence and 15 year license suspension. Instead, his license was suspended for 60 days.

Contact a Vehicular Homicide Defense Attorney in Springfield Today

If you have been charged with vehicular homicide in Springfield or a surrounding area, don’t hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Tom Kokonowski, Esq. Call now at (413) 585-9200 or (413) 549-0022.