Vehicular Homicide GA: Atlanta Criminal Lawyer, DUI Defense
In Georgia, when a person is killed in a car crash, the driver of any vehicle(s) causing that death due to one of Georgia's serious motor vehicle wrecks could face 1st degree vehicular homicide Georgia criminal charges. The two categories of vehicle homicide Georgia are designated as first degree (which triggers felony-level punishment) and second-degree homicide by vehicle, which carries misdemeanor punishment.
Quite a few traffic crimes mandate an arrest. This list from the Georgia Department of Public Safety (in Form DPS32-D, issued 07/22) lays out the many mandatory arrest crimes:
The maximum vehicular homicide sentence Georgia. Georgia laws for these felony offenses are among the nation's toughest felony vehicular homicide statutes. These are sometimes denominated as VH1 case (versus VH2 cases, for misdemeanors).
For VH1 charges, for each "victim" killed or seriously injured, the maximum state prison time is 15 years, and 3 years is the minimum. For VH2, that maximum jail sentence, per victim, is twelve months.
Not all states call this type of traffic death statute "homicide by vehicle." In Florida the proper term would be a vehicular manslaughter sentence, Georgia's equivalent vehicular homicide statute. Georgia's legislators get to name all of our laws, including our VH (vehicular homicide) crimes.
Those identified serious driving crimes include D.U.I., reckless driving, attempting to elude a law enforcement officer, passing a school bus when it has its "stop arm" activated and is discharging its passengers, and hit and run (which is also called leaving the scene of an accident.
Second Degree Homicide by Vehicle Cases. For standard misdemeanor traffic crimes in the Peach State, like running a stop sign, following too closely, and a red-light violation (that causes a death), a potential jail sentence of up to 12 months in jail is possible. The additional "causing death" charge via traffic crimes is for misdemeanor vehicular homicide GA which is denominated as 2nd degree vehicular homicide.
These misdemeanor criminal law violations could be due to the driver's negligence (e.g., following too close), recklessness (weaving in and out of traffic lanes on a multiple lane, high-speed highway like Georgia 400 if I-85), or failure to follow other traffic regulations (texting while driving).
A person could be charged with felony vehicular homicide in Georgia if it was first-degree or misdemeanor vehicular homicide in Georgia if it was second-degree. No matter what degree you have been charged with, a conviction carries serious consequences.
More bad news comes when two or more victims are killed or suffered a serious bodily injury in any homicide in vehicle 1st degree Georgia case, due to "stacking" sentences end-to-end, potentially. This means that a 15-year prison term, plus another 15 years after that is a potential threat on these felony charges. If the accused driver was driving after having been declared a habitual violator, the maximum prison time jumps to 20 years (read more below).
When it comes to drunk driving or drugged driving, if the blood or breath alcohol test is over the legal limit, the State does not have to improve that you were impaired. When no test result was obtained, the person can still face prosecution under the DUI less safe laws in Georgia.
4 Criminal Lawyers with over 93 Collective Years of Law Practice
When facing either type of vehicular homicide charges in Georgia, a citizen needs an experienced criminal defense attorney to expect the best possible outcome. Our Super Lawyers legal team has a combined 93 years of criminal defense experience and is well-versed in the criminal laws surrounding criminal acts, especially since our law partners are published law book co-authors and legal publication co-authors. It makes sense to speak with an Atlanta criminal lawyer, since the high volume of cases has created vast experience levels for winning tough cases.
In addition, one of our partners is an ex-law enforcement officer. Another is an ex-prosecutor. The 3 partners co-author the Peach State's leading book on DUI defense (originally published in 1995), and one chapter covers Georgia vehicular homicide cases.
Our four legal professionals provide a FREE lawyer consultation, on your initial visit, phone conference or virtual case review, using ZOOM or other virtual meeting technology. Our Georgia criminal lawyers are here to provide expert assistance and to outline for you various potential defense and "plans of attack."
Our starting point is to scrutinize the State's evidence against you. Often, this investigation entails looking for video camera footage from business premises of homes near the collision scene. Our lawyers in Georgia also question you and any other potential helpful witnesses, for the case.
Felony Vehicular Homicide in Georgia: First Degree Vehicular Homicide
In Georgia, the most serious form of vehicular homicide is classified as a felony crime. The State prosecutor will typically allege that the driver of the "at fault" vehicle was under the influence of alcohol or had violated another of the "serious" traffic crimes, in causing the death.
All other deaths caused by traffic offenses are usually considered to be a less serious, misdemeanor offense. People are considered to have committed first-degree vehicular homicide (VH) if they unintentionally cause the death of another while driving, even if they did not have malicious intent.
How the Habitual Violator Law can boost Potential Jail Punishment
The driver of a vehicle in Georgia will be considered guilty of felony vehicular homicide if she or he has previously been declared a "habitual violator.
Thus, beyond the several ways to commit one of the five felony VH offenses listed above, a person can also be guilty of felony vehicular homicide in Georgia if that driver has already been declared a habitual violator. The Georgia Code section applicable to these cases in in O.C.G.A. Section 40 6 393, subsection (d).
What for "Habitual Violator" Mean? In the state of Georgia, a person will be "notified" of being a "habitual violator," and physically served with a form telling her or him of this status. In a nutshell, the written notice tells that person that he/she has been convicted of three (3) or more serious motor vehicle crimes within a period of five (5) years, based on dates-of-arrest, not dates of conviction.
Those crimes can be for DUI (including child endangerment DUIs, from one DUI arrest), reckless driving, hit and run, fleeing, or attempting to elude a police officer, and misdemeanor vehicular homicide. If found guilty, that will face a prison term of between five (5) and twenty (20) years, and not between 3 and 15, like others facing a VH indictment.
Misdemeanor Georgia Vehicular Homicide Crimes
The difference between felony and misdemeanor vehicular homicide charges is determined by the five "predicate" driving offenses that are considered serious. That means, what was the underlying traffic crime that led to another person's death.
Other than the six "deadly" serious offenses, if any other traffic offense is committed, the resulting charge will be for a vehicular homicide misdemeanor. The most important difference is the jail time component.
A few of these common, simple misdemeanor crimes are running a red light, not complying with the "move over" law, failure to yield, following too close, to running a stop sign, that leads to the death of another person. To read the full text of OCGA 40-6-393, click on the foregoing link.
With a FREE Consultation, what are you Waiting For?
Our GA Vehicular Homicide Attorneys travel statewide, when needed. Our legal warriors have handled felony VH cases in Liberty County, Lowndes County, Thomas County, Athens-Clarke County, Towns County, Douglas County, Gwinnett County, Cobb County, Fulton County, Troup County, Whitfield County, Columbus-Muscogee County, Macon-Bibb County, and many other locations.
Most of these serious car crash cases will need the technical assistance of an accident reconstruction expert. These vehicle crash professionals usually started their training as law enforcement officers. Their analysis of crush damage, skid and yaw mark, and electronic data recorder (EDR) downloads can make a huge difference in many VH1 or VH2 cases.
Our litigation professionals also have expertise debunking field sobriety test evidence, finding flaws in blood alcohol testing or for drugs, and in contesting the accuracy and reliability of Intoxilyzer 9000 breathalyzer tests. You must have legal counsel who can identify any errors in the chemical analysis of GBI forensic testing.
Take the initial steps to stop or minimize a jail sentence and license suspension by getting in touch with us today for a FREE case assessment. Our office is open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week and will be ready to accept your call. Ask about our legal fee payment plans.
Don't put off shifting this heavy burden from your shoulders to ours. Dial 404-567-5515.