Charged with Vehicular Homicide in CO? Learn what you’re facing.
If you or someone you love is facing vehicular homicide charges in Colorado, it is extremely important to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Read on to learn about the Colorado laws and penaltiest pertaining to vehicular homicide charges.
Defining Vehicular Homicide Under Colorado Law
Under Colorado Revised Statutes § 18-3-106, vehicular homicide has the following elements:
- A person operates or drives a motor vehicle in a reckless manner; or
- A person operates or drives a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or one or more drugs; and
- The person’s reckless or intoxicated driving is the proximate cause of the death of another person.
In other words, when someone either drives recklessly or while intoxicated, and that person’s driving causes the death of another party, that person can face vehicular homicide charges. The statute makes clear that driving under the influence (DUI) and killing another party as a result of the DUI is a strict liability crime.
This means that if someone is caught driving drunk and is involved in an accident where another person suffers fatal injuries, the charge will automatically be a vehicular homicide.
Learning More About Vehicular Homicide in Colorado
Motor vehicle crash deaths happen more often than you might think as a result of a driver’s recklessness or as a result of a motorist driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The following are some relevant facts and figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Approximately 6 million car accidents occur in the U.S. each year, and 90 people are killed in collisions, on average, per day;
- Each day in the U.S. on average, 29 people are killed in motor vehicle crashes involving drunk drivers;
- More than 30 percent of all car accident deaths result from reckless driving;
- About 40 percent of all annual motor vehicle deaths result from alcohol-impaired driving; and
- Almost 20 percent of all car crash deaths among children aged 0-14 are caused by a drunk driver.
Charges for Colorado Vehicular Homicide
If you are charged with and ultimately convicted of vehicular homicide, the charge depends upon whether you were driving recklessly or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Here are the distinctions:
- Class 4 felony: If you are accused of killing someone while driving recklessly (but not under the influence of drugs or alcohol), the vehicular homicide charge is a class 4 felony.
- Class 3 felony: If you are accused of killing someone while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the vehicular homicide charge is a class 3 felony, which is more serious than a class 4 felony.
Penalties for Colorado Vehicular Homicide
Here are the penalties for a class 4 felony offense:
- Imprisonment for a term from 2 to 6 years; and/or
- Fine of $2,000 to $500,000.
Here are the penalties for a class 3 felony offense:
- Imprisonment for a term from 4 to 12 years; and/or
- Fine of $3,000 to $750,000.
Possible Defenses to Vehicular Homicide in Colorado
Each case has its own set of facts and circumstances, so you should always work with a Colorado criminal defense attorney to build a strong defense that is tailored to your case. Generally speaking, however, the following may be a possible defense to vehicular homicide:
- You were not actually driving recklessly or under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
- Your driving behavior was not the proximate cause of the death; or
- Your Fourth Amendment rights were violated during the police stop and search.
You should not attempt to build a defense without the help of an attorney. Even though some defense strategies may be more common than others, it is important to work with a lawyer who has experience tailoring defenses to the specific facts of a defendant’s case.
Defending Against Vehicular Homicide Charges With a Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer
At Miller Leonard, PC, we have years of experience defending against vehicular homicide charges in Colorado. Contact us to get started on your case.