Maryland Bishop Faces Manslaughter Charges
A 58-year-old woman, known as the No. 2 official in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland and first female bishop, faces manslaughter charges after being involved in a fatal crash. According to a news report in The Washington Post, the fatal car accident occurred on Roland Avenue in Baltimore the afternoon of Dec. 27. Officials say the vehicle she was driving veered into the bike lane where she struck a bicyclist before leaving the scene. After returning to the sight of the crash, she allegedly failed a breath test.
The man on the bicycle was killed in the crash. The top Episcopal bishop turned herself in and now faces charges for manslaughter, leaving the scene, driving under the influence of alcohol and texting while driving.
Vehicular manslaughter is also known as vehicular homicide. Under Maryland law, vehicular manslaughter charges are filed when someone is killed because of the negligence of a person that is driving, controlling or operating a vehicle or vessel. Vehicular manslaughter charges can result from a fatal crash involving drugs or alcohol, but they can also result from accidents involving distracted driving, excessive speed, erratic behavior and other forms of negligence.
Gross negligence under Maryland Statute 2-209 is when a driver created a fatal situation through reckless disregard for human life. Criminal negligence under Maryland Statute 2-210 is when a driver should be aware, but failed to recognize that his or her actions created a risk for a fatal accident. Vehicular manslaughter involving gross negligence can result in a 10-year prison sentence and $5,000 in fines. Criminal negligence can result in up to three years of incarceration and $5,000 in fines.
It is possible to fight vehicular manslaughter charges in Maryland. The prosecution must prove that the driver had a reckless disregard for human life and that he or she behaved in a negligent manner. With legal guidance, drivers can fight the charges or negotiate for reduced penalties and charges. Anyone facing these types of serious charges would be well advised to review their potential defenses with an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer before making any critical decisions.