Houman Fakhimi

Santa Ana Vehicular Manslaughter Charge Doesn't Require Alcohol

A Santa Ana vehicular manslaughter charge does not require that the accused consumed alcohol before getting behind the wheel.

Santa Ana Defense Attorney Houman Fakhimi knows that according to California Penal Code 192 (c), what is needed for a prosecutor to prove guilt of this statute is one of three scenarios:

  • That the driver was operating the vehicle in commission of an illegal act (not a felony) with gross negligence or driving with gross negligence in commission of an illegal act that could result in death;
  • That the driver operating a vehicle in the commission of an illegal act that resulted in death or driving in commission of a lawful act which could (and did) result in death (no negligence required here).
  • That the driver crashed the vehicle and subsequently caused a death for intentional financial gain. In this case, the charge could accompany prosecution for murder as well.

So those are the technical definitions. To put it into real-life terms, you could be charged with vehicular manslaughter if you killed someone on the road and it was determined that you were speeding, texting or talking on your phone while driving, drove illegally into a crosswalk and killed a pedestrian, or that you staged an accident that resulted in an accidental death.

If there is further evidence that you were drinking, you could be charged under California Penal Code 191.5 (b), which outlines vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

However, in a recent local vehicular manslaughter case, an accident resulted in the death of a U.S. Postal worker in Boyle Heights. The accident resulted in the severing of the worker's legs, which ultimately led to his death.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the driver of the other vehicle was driving on a revoked license and ended up falling asleep at the wheel. There was no evidence that he was intoxicated or otherwise engaging in any illegal activity, such as speeding.

The 32-year-old postal worker was pinned between his mail van, which was parked on Prado Street, and the 59-year-old defendant's vehicle.

At the time of the crash, the 59-year-old driver was not taken into custody, and the Los Angeles County district attorney's office had determined he hadn't been acting negligently.

Still, he was charged with vehicular manslaughter.

Now, this is a charge that can be filed either as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the individual circumstances of the case and your criminal background. If a person is convicted of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter in Santa Ana, he or she is going to face up to one year in jail. Alternatively, if a person is convicted of felony vehicular manslaughter in Santa Ana, he or she is going to face somewhere between two to 10 years in prison.

It appears the individual in this case was charged with a misdemeanor because after pleading no contest to the charge, he was sentenced to a little less than one year in jail, plus another six months for driving on a suspended license. He will receive credit for the nearly 40 days he has already served.