If you are facing a charge of vehicular manslaughter in Las Vegas, or anywhere in Nevada, you are looking at serious consequences upon a conviction and need to secure the most experienced, dedicated legal help possible in order to win your case.
At the Law Offices of Martin Hart, we have intimate familiarity with all areas of the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) related to manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter, vehicular homicide, and other related charges. We also are fully acquainted with local Las Vegas and Nevada courtroom processes and with the dynamics of vehicular manslaughter cases in our state.
Contact us anytime 24/7, 365 days a year holidays inclusive, for a free, no-obligation consultation, by calling 702-380-4278. We will answer all of your questions and can give immediate attention to your case.
Understanding Manslaughter Law in Nevada
Before one can appreciate the position vehicular manslaughter holds in the Nevada legal system, it's first necessary to understand NRS 200.040 and other statues related to defining the crime of "manslaughter" in general.
Most forms of manslaughter are felonies in Nevada and are punishable by long terms in county jail or state prison. Vehicular manslaughter is a misdemeanor (more on that later.)
"Manslaughter" is an unlawful killing of someone that occurred without any malice/deliberation. If voluntary manslaughter, then it is a crime of passion due to a voluntary action that arose out of a lack of caution after becoming extremely angry or excited in some way.
This is "just shy of murder" under Nevada law, and it is a Category-B Felony, which can get you anywhere from one to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 - depending on the details of the case.
Involuntary manslaughter is when your actions killed another person, but you had no intention of doing so - not even due to "the heat of the moment" as in voluntary manslaughter. Nonetheless, your actions were such that you should have known they could kill another person. (Vehicular manslaughter falls under this general category in that it's unintentional, but is treated separately in Nevada law.)
Involuntary manslaughter is a Category-D Felony, punishable by from one to four years in state prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Vehicular manslaughter, vehicular homicide, felony DUI causing death, and felony reckless driving are all forms of Nevada manslaughter that take place behind the wheel. We will mention and distinguish all of these in the sections below.
But first, we should mention one final crime closely related to manslaughter in Nevada law: "justifiable homicide."
Justifiable homicide normally occurs when someone enters a home to commit a felony and is killed by the homeowner or someone else present. You do not have a "duty to retreat" before using deadly force, as in some other states, but you must have acted in defense of self, others, or property out of genuine fear and not out of desire for revenge.
Vehicular Manslaughter Versus Vehicular Homicide
NRS 484B.657 is the statue covering vehicular manslaughter in Nevada. It is an unintentional killing of another person due to "simple negligence" while operating a motor vehicle. You don't have to be DUI for it to be vehicular manslaughter, but DUI is a common circumstance in such cases.
If you already have 3 previous DUI conviction, what would otherwise be vehicular manslaughter becomes vehicular homicide instead - a much more severe crime.
Vehicular manslaughter results from the failure to perform any number of actions that one should have done in a given driving situation. It is a matter of negligence by omission. If you did not stop or yield at a sign or light, were speeding, drove fast through a bus stop zone, or were texting while driving (not paying attention), for example, that would be simple negligence.
If the negligence was only momentary and was a lapse anyone might have had (though "shouldn't" have had), it can likely count as merely simple negligence. But if it was generally reckless driving over a longer period of time or physical distance, "reckless driving causing death" would likely be charged instead.
And if you were driving DUI or DUID at the time, you can be charged with vehicular homicide (IF you have three prior DUI convictions) under NRS 484c.130. The idea is that it no longer counts as "unintentional" after so many past warnings about the risks of DUI after the past DUI convictions.
Possible Penalties for Vehicular Manslaughter
As mentioned above, vehicular manslaughter is a misdemeanor in Nevada. It is punishable by:
- A one-year driver's license suspension.
- Up to 6 months in county jail.
- A fine of up to $1,000
If the accident causing the death of another occurred in a work zone, the sentencing elements can all be doubled.
You can't move to seal the record of a vehicular manslaughter offense until at least 2 years after your case has been closed.
In some other states, like neighboring California, vehicular manslaughter can be either a misdemeanor or a felony, but it is always a misdemeanor in Nevada.
Plea Deals Related to Vehicular Manslaughter
Oftentimes, a vehicular manslaughter charge is the result of plea deal down from an original vehicular homicide allegation.
Realize that vehicular homicide (a felony) is punishable by from 25 years to life in state prison, with parole possible only after the first 10 years behind bars. And if a child of 14 or younger was in the car the defendant was driving, the sentence will typically be longer than it would otherwise have been.
If the prosecution cannot prove that the "proximate cause" of the death was the defendant's driving OR can show that the victim's actions make him/her more at fault for his/her own death than the defendant is - a plea deal from vehicular homicide down to vehicular manslaughter can likely be obtained.
In other cases, a reckless driving causing death charge may be reduced to vehicular manslaughter.
Also, those accused of vehicular homicide, with the help of a good criminal defense attorney, can often get a charge reduction to felony DUI causing death OR to felony reckless driving. Both of these still carry steep penalties but not as severe as for vehicular homicide.
But typically, when you are facing vehicular homicide and can't reasonably expect to simply get the case dropped; the best plea to aim for is vehicular manslaughter since it's a misdemeanor, has much lower penalties, and can be erased from your record after 2 years or a little more.
Martin Hart has deep experience in knowing when to negotiate for a favorable plea deal and when to fight on for a total victory in a dismissal or acquittal. He will always inform you of your options and their potential/likely consequences and let you make the final decision on whether to seek a plea. But rest assured, that attorney Martin Hart and other attorneys at The Law Offices of Martin Hart possess well seasoned negotiation skills that can be put to work in your best interests when that is the best option.
Common Defense Strategies Against a Vehicular Manslaughter Charge
At the Law Offices of Martin Hart, we have experience deep and wide in defending against all manner of vehicle related criminal charges, including vehicular manslaughter. Quite often, this charge is the result of a plea from a more serious vehicular crime, but it can also be defended against, of course, in its own right.
We don't use "cookie cutter" defenses, but we customize each defense to the exact facts of each and every particular case. But still, it's undeniable that there are common basic defense types that come up frequently in vehicular manslaughter cases - here are a few of the most common among them:
- You were not guilty of even simple negligence, as a vehicular manslaughter conviction would require. While an accident occurred, it was not due to any negligence on your part. It may have been weather or other events beyond your control that were responsible.
- The other driver was primarily responsible for the accident. If the victim or a driver of a third vehicle involved in the crash was at-fault for the accident, there's really no way you can have vehicular manslaughter pinned on you.
- The collision and/or your actions (though negligent) were not the proximate cause of the death of the victim. While you might be guilty of a lesser crime, you cannot in this circumstance be guilty of vehicular manslaughter.
- You were not DUI at the time of the accident. If the prosecution's whole case is based on DUI being the cause of the accident and you can show that the DUI allegation is unproveable, you may be able to win the case this way. Unless, of course, negligence apart from any connection to DUI or DUID can be established.
- You were not driving the vehicle. If it was a hit and run accident or if no actual collision took place, it may be the driver of the vehicle that caused the accident was not identified at the scene of the crime. And it may be that someone else had borrowed your car or even stolen it, and you are being blamed simply because your license plate number was tracked down or your car was identified as the car involved.
Why Choose the Law Offices of Martin Hart?
When you are facing very serious criminal charges in Nevada, such as vehicular manslaughter, vehicular homicide, or related charges, you can't afford to settle for anything less than the best possible defense attorney.
The consequences of a conviction could involve many years in state prison or at least months in county jail, heavy fines in the thousands of dollars range, and the loss of your driving privileges for one or more years. Plus, the creation of a criminal record, even if for a two year span only, can seriously affect your ability to hold or find a good job and provide for yourself and your family.
Martin Hart has deep experience in handling vehicular manslaughter cases in Las Vegas, Clark County, and throughout the whole state of Nevada. His knowledge of relevant state statutes and local court proceedings in these types of cases is detailed and thorough. He will know how to build you a solid defense and how to challenge the arguments, evidence, and testimonies of the prosecution.
At the Law Offices of Martin Hart, we know how to challenge charges pre-trial and often get them dismissed based on violations of your rights or on the very weakness of the prosecutor's case. We know how to fight in court to win an acquittal. And we also know how and when to negotiate for a favorable plea agreement that will reduce your charge and/or sentence.
And we also treat our clients with the highest degree of respect and professionalism. We communicate with you "early and often" and keep you informed of any significant developments in your case.
We are not a "law mill" like so many of our competitors. We give yo personalized attention from day one and fight tenaciously in your best interests. And we have a strong and long track record of success for our clients in Las Vegas and beyond.
Contact Us Today for Immediate Help!
At the Law Offices of Martin Hart, we have deep experience in handling vehicular manslaughter cases from start to finish in Las Vegas, Clark County, and throughout the state of Nevada.
We have a long track record of winning dismissals, acquittals, and reduced charges and sentences for our clients, and we can do the same for you.
Contact us anytime 24/7/365 by calling 702-380-4278, and we will give you a free legal consultation and a quickly get started on building you a solid defense!