Vehicular Manslaughter

Los Angeles Vehicular Manslaughter Defense Lawyer

Providing Criminal Defense Representation to People Accused of Vehicular Manslaughter in the Los Angeles Area

In the State of California, vehicular manslaughter is governed by Section 192(c) of the California Penal Code. That code section defines vehicular manslaughter as causing the death of another person while driving a motor vehicle by negligently committing an unlawful act that is not a California felony – or committing a lawful act that could potentially result in death.

Vehicular manslaughter cases falling under Section 192(c) often come about as a result of negligent or distracted driving. For example, if a driver strikes and kills someone with his vehicle while making a cell phone call or texting behind the wheel, that driver could potentially be charged with vehicular manslaughter. Similarly, if a driver runs a red light or stop sign, strikes another vehicle, and kills an occupant of that vehicle, then he or she could also be charged with vehicular manslaughter. Because of the serious consequences associated with a vehicular manslaughter case in California, anyone facing a vehicular manslaughter case should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. In many cases, the sooner an attorney gets involved, the more favorable the outcome of the case.

Legal Penalties Upon Conviction

The penalty or penalties imposed in a vehicular manslaughter case depend on whether the death resulted from gross negligence or ordinary tort-type negligence. Gross negligence involves recklessness or some other very serious breach of the applicable standard of care – such as driving down a busy highway at 65 miles per hour during rush hour traffic, for example.

If the defendant is deemed grossly negligent, vehicular manslaughter could be deemed either a felony or a misdemeanor. The maximum misdemeanor sentence for a vehicular misdemeanor with gross negligence is 1 year in the county jail. However, the felony sentence could be as much as six years in a state prison. Examples of the kinds of negligence that could lead to a vehicular manslaughter case include the following:

  • Speeding
  • Distracted driving
  • Failure to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk
  • Running a stop sign
  • Running a red light
  • Driving the wrong way on a one-way street
  • Improper turns
  • Failing to signal a lane change
  • Failing to properly maintain a vehicle
  • Driving without a valid driver’s license

Importantly, if alcohol or drugs are involved in your accident, you may be accused of vehicle manslaughter while intoxicated or gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, depending on the circumstances. If the defendant was merely negligent, as opposed to grossly negligent, the maximum criminal sentence is 1 year in the county jail.


More and more I am seeing the police arrest and the prosecutors file against people who become involved in serious car accidents while they were either drinking alcohol or driving recklessly. If someone dies during a car crash and the party responsible for the accident was driving in a negligent or reckless manner, the judges and prosecutors are more than ever willing to punish the driver than I have seen in 25 years of practicing criminal defense in Los Angeles County.

Your best defense to a vehicular manslaughter case is to hire an attorney who is familiar with the courthouse where your case is pending and who has the experience when it comes to defending vehicular manslaughter or even second degree murder charges related to a car crash. There are fine lines between driving negligently (which is usually civil and not criminal), driving in a grossly negligent manner (which will be criminal if a death occurs) and driving in such a way and under circumstances where you have a “wanton disregard for human life”, which can result in a murder charge. Because the lines are so fine, if you do not have a savvy criminal defense attorney on your side, it is not uncommon that the prosecutors error on the side of filing and prosecuting the worse charge they can come up with.

It is my strategy in these type of cases to meet with the client and get everything that happened out on the table and then decide what the best strategy should be based on your unique circumstances. There is not a cookie cutter strategy that is used in all of these cases. There are so many different factors that are involved that the best most seasoned criminal defense attorneys should be handling these type of cases. If you are serious about defending yourself and want the best, I suggest you pick up the phone and make a call and take the first step toward protecting your rights, career, reputation and freedom!

Contact a Los Angeles Vehicular Manslaughter Attorney

A vehicular manslaughter conviction can subject you to a significant period of incarceration, and you need an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney representing you throughout your case. A lawyer may be able to assist you with minimizing or eliminating the penalties associated with a vehicular manslaughter conviction.

To schedule a free consultation with an attorney, call the Hedding Law Firm today at 818-624-9080 or contact us online.