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Arizona law does not differentiate between vehicular manslaughter and other types of manslaughter. A conviction for vehicular manslaughter can result in a lengthy prison sentence, and the penalties will be enhanced if there are aggravating circumstances involved, such as DUI. This makes it imperative to have an experienced Arizona criminal defense attorney on your side if you are accused of this crime.
Blischak Law Firm is a premier criminal defense practice that handles vehicular manslaughter charges throughout the state of Arizona. Many are not aware that any homicide charge is a serious matter nor that they can face manslaughter charges for causing an accident that results in a fatality or striking a pedestrian. When you consult us, we will do everything in our power to protect your freedom and your future.
Vehicular Manslaughter and Recklessness in Arizona
In Arizona, manslaughter is a serious homicide charge and vehicular manslaughter is categorized as recklessness. To gain a conviction, therefore, prosecutors must be able to prove that you recklessly caused the death of another person with a vehicle. This requires showing that (1) you new knew about and ignored a substantial and unjustifiable risk that your actions would cause another person injury or death, and (2) a reasonable person would have acted differently in the same situation.
There are a wide variety of factors that prosecutors may rely on to demonstrate recklessness, including:
- DUI (Drugs and/or Alcohol) — Given that driving under the influence is the leading cause of car accident fatalities, Arizona DUI laws are strictly enforced. Moreover, prosecutors will use DUI as a basis for showing recklessness in a vehicular manslaughter case. Nonetheless, the state must be able to prove that you were driving under the influence. The vehicular manslaughter attorneys at Blischak Law Firm will work to challenge the results of any blood or breathalyzer tests of your BAC level, as well as any field sobriety tests that may have been administered by law enforcement.
- Racing — A driver who engages in any form of racing in Arizona (e.g. drag racing, acceleration competitions, street racing) may be considered a reckless driver. If another person is killed as a result of racing, whether a passenger in the racing vehicle, occupants of another vehicle, or an innocent bystander, the driver can be charged with manslaughter by vehicle.
- Criminal Speeding — Because of the inherent risks of speeding, criminal speeding can be considered a form of reckless if the driver was (1) driving over 35 mph near a school zone, (2) driving 20 mph or more over the posted speed limit, (3) driving over 45 mph when the speed limit has not been posted, or (4) driving over 85 mph at any time.
- Aggressive Driving — Under Arizona law, a person can be found reckless for aggressive driving which involved a combination of driving at an unsafe speed and two or more the following violations — (1) unsafe lane change, (2) tailgating — following too closely, (3) passing a vehicle on the right, (4) failing to yield the right away, (5) failing to obey a traffic control device (e.g. a stop sign, red light).
Vehicular Manslaughter Penalties in Arizona
In Arizona, manslaughter is classified as a class 2 “dangerous” felony, which can result in a prison sentence ranging from 3 to 12.5 years. As mentioned above, aggravating factors will result in a longer prison sentence. A felony conviction means that you will forfeit some of your civil rights (e.g the right to vote, possess a weapon). Obviously, you will also lose your driving privileges and face exorbitant automobile insurance costs in the future. Finally, being convicted of a felony means that you will have a permanent criminal record, which can interfere with employment and housing opportunities.
Contact Our Phoenix Vehicular Manslaughter Defense Attorney
If have been charged with vehicular manslaughter in Arizona, you not only face the potential of a prison sentence but lasting damage to your reputation as well. Additionally, manslaughter by vehicle may be the basis for a civil lawsuit, which may jeopardize your financial future.
With so much to lose, the best decision you can make is to consult Blischak Law Firm. We will work tirelessly to win an acquittal, or, alternatively, seek to have the charges and penalties reduced. Guided by a principle that anyone accused of a crime is entitled to the presumption of innocence, we will work tirelessly to protect your rights and your future. Contact our office today to set up a free consultation.