Protecting the Rights of People Accused of Vehicular Manslaughter in Maryland
A motorist may be arrested and charged with vehicular manslaughter in Maryland if he or she operates a motor vehicle negligently (or while he or she is seriously impaired by drugs or alcohol)—and unintentionally kills someone. Maryland recognizes four distinct kinds of homicides involving motor vehicles, including the following:
- Criminally negligent manslaughter-by-vehicle
- Homicide by a motor vehicle while driving under the influence of alcohol
- Homicide by a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs, alcohol, or a controlled substance
A vehicular manslaughter conviction can result in tough penalties, including fines, jail time, and administrative penalties, such as loss of a driver’s license. The Maryland criminal defense attorneys at Alpert Schreyer, LLC recognize the seriousness of vehicular manslaughter charges and convictions. Our attorneys may be able to help you raise a good legal defense to your charge or negotiate a favorable plea deal with the prosecution.
If you have already been found guilty or convicted of vehicular manslaughter in Maryland, our attorneys may be able to represent you at a sentencing hearing and argue for a lighter sentence.
In Maryland, manslaughter-by-vehicle is defined as causing another person’s death while operating a motor vehicle in an extremely careless or negligent manner. “Gross negligence” has a very precise legal meaning. In order for the State to be able to show that a driver acted with gross negligence, a prosecutor must demonstrate—beyond a reasonable doubt—that the driver knew of the great danger to life that his or her conduct posed. The State must also be able to show that the driver acted with conscious disregard for that risk.
It is noteworthy that the standard for gross negligence is much higher than that of ordinary criminal negligence under the law. For a defendant to be deemed criminally negligent, he or she must not have been aware that the conduct at issue created an unjustifiable and substantial danger to life. However, he or she should have been aware of that risk.
In Maryland, manslaughter-by-vehicle is a felony charge that can result in serious penalties upon conviction. A manslaughter-by-vehicle conviction can subject a defendant to ten years’ incarceration, a $5,000 fine, or both. If the defendant has a previous homicide conviction or vehicular manslaughter conviction on his or her record, however, a judge could sentence the defendant to 15 years’ incarceration, along with a $10,000 monetary fine.
Criminally Negligent Manslaughter-by-Vehicle
Criminally negligent manslaughter-by-vehicle is a less serious criminal offense than is manslaughter-by-vehicle. For a defendant to be arrested and charged with this latter offense, the defendant must have been unaware that his or her driving conduct presented a serious danger to life. However, the defendant should have been aware of that risk.
Unlike a manslaughter-by-vehicle charge, criminally negligent manslaughter-by-vehicle is a misdemeanor in Maryland. A driver who is found guilty or convicted of this offense may be sentenced to three years’ incarceration, fined $5,000, or both. If the defendant was previously convicted of a homicide offense or vehicular manslaughter, then he or she can be charged with a felony. In that instance, the defendant may be sentenced to five years’ incarceration, a top fine of $10,000, or both.
Homicide by a Motor Vehicle While Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol
A driver can be convicted of homicide by a motor vehicle while driving under the influence of alcohol if he or she has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher, and subsequently kills someone while driving. The defendant can also be convicted of this charge if he or she kills another while driving a motor vehicle and while “substantially impaired” by alcohol.
Homicide by a motor vehicle while driving under the influence of alcohol amounts to a felony charge under the law. A first-time offender can be subject to five years’ incarceration, a $5,000 fine, or both. A second-time offender may be incarcerated for ten years, required to pay a $10,000 fine, or both.
Homicide by a Motor Vehicle while Impaired by Alcohol, Drugs, or a Controlled Substance
Homicide by a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or a controlled substance constitutes a felony under Maryland law. In order to be charged with and convicted of this offense, the driver must have brought about the death of someone else while the driver’s “normal coordination” is impaired by drugs, alcohol, or a controlled substance.
If the defendant is convicted for the first time on this charge, he or she may be sentenced to three years’ incarceration, a $5,000 monetary fine, or both. A second-time conviction can result in five years’ incarceration, a $10,000 monetary fine, or both.
Vehicular manslaughter charges in Maryland are serious business. The Maryland criminal defense lawyers at Alpert Schreyer, LLC can review the circumstances of your charge and will do everything they can to help you avoid a conviction or mitigate the consequences you are facing.
Call a Maryland Vehicular Manslaughter Defense Lawyer Today for a Free Case Evaluation
Maryland vehicular manslaughter convictions can land you in jail and/or subject you to large penalties and monetary fines. However, a skilled defense lawyer may be able to help you successfully plead down to a lesser charge, such as reckless driving. If you have already been charged and convicted of vehicular manslaughter, a lawyer may be able to help you obtain a lesser sentence. For example, a lawyer may be able to argue for a suspended sentence, probation, or alternative work program on your behalf and argue against jail time or monetary fines.
If you have been charged with vehicular manslaughter, you should not delay in seeking legal representation in your case. Our lawyers offer a free initial case evaluation in order to discuss your case with you and develop a plan for moving forward.
To schedule a free case evaluation with a Maryland criminal defense lawyer, please call us today at (866) 444-6363, or contact us online.