Many lives are lost on Arizona’s roadways every year and a number of these deaths are the result of traffic crimes. While there are many accidents that don’t result in criminal charges, there are plenty that do when drugs or alcohol were involved. It is also a criminal act for an individual to leave the scene of an accident and criminal charges may be brought if the accident resulted in severe injury or death.
A vehicle can be considered a deadly weapon if handled irresponsibly, so vehicular manslaughter or assault can be considered just as severe as killing or shooting someone with a handgun. If a person has allegedly operated a vehicle recklessly, with or without the presence of drugs or alcohol, then the state will allow for the prosecution of that person even if there was nothing intentional about the accident. If you’ve been accused of traffic crimes in Phoenix, Mesa, Glendale, Scottsdale or the surrounding area it is important to give Myles A. Schneider & Associates a call before talking to the police.
Vehicular Homicide Offenses
If a person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs and is at fault in an accident, then multiple charges are filed against that person. The charges not only include the specific traffic crime, but also involves a DUI or DWI charge. If the victim died in the accident, the state of Arizona reserves the right to charge the defendant with Second Degree Murder. Other charges may include negligent homicide or manslaughter.
Basically, what charge is issued depends upon the judgment of the prosecutor based upon the evidence that they possess. Because of this personal decision and the fact that the state has so many prosecutors prosecuting such cases, it is not uncommon for an individual in one part of the state to receive 10 to 20 years in prison for the same offense committed by someone who was given just probation in another part of the state. This is why it is important to have the best Phoenix traffic crimes attorney working for you.
If you are allegedly at fault for a traffic accident that resulted in the death of another, you could be charged with one of the following crimes:
- Negligent homicide – The act is one that is considered a negligent one, which means that all risk was not assessed, whereas the average and reasonable person would have assessed the risks before taking an action that could result in injury or death of another. Drug and alcohol cases tend to fall under this category and a first offense can result in nearly four years in prison.
- Manslaughter – If the death of another was caused due to recklessness, manslaughter may be the charge. If a person engages in reckless conduct despite their knowledge of the risks and the death of another results, then this is the charge. While being under the influence of drugs and alcohol can be considered negligent homicide, the offenses can also be classified under manslaughter. This can result in up to 12.5 years in prison.
- Second Degree Murder – This is the charge when it is alleged that a vehicle has been intentionally used in the death of another. Reckless behavior falls under this category as well when a person is aware of the risks with no regard for human life. This offense can result in a sentence of up to 22 years in prison. If the victim is under the age of 15, the prison term can be longer.
There are other traffic crimes in which we have represented clients. These are crimes that do not result in the death of the victim, but can result in severe injury. The first is Aggravated Assault and is when serious injury is caused to another due to reckless behavior behind the wheel of a car. This is considered a dangerous offense and can have a prison term of 5 to 15 years. This is more severe than the traffic crime of endangerment, which can be added as an additional charge to any other traffic crime charge. If found guilty of endangerment, an additional 3 years may be served in prison for a first offense. Subsequent offenses result in more prison time.
The third traffic crime that is considered a felony is leaving the scene of an accident when the accident is one that has resulted in severe injury or death. This crime is punishable with up to 2.5 years in prison. It is also possible for this crime to be considered a Class 3 Felony, which means a nearly 9 year prison sentence could be imposed. If you were the cause of the accident, you can be charged with a Class 2 Felony and serve 12.5 years in prison. But even if no one is injured, leaving the scene is considered a misdemeanor that could carry a 6 month jail sentence.
Arizona Traffic Crimes Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with a traffic crime, the allegations need to be treated very seriously. Whether the offense is as simple as a traffic ticket or as severe as vehicular homicide, it is critical to retain a lawyer that has a solid understanding of the law and the dynamics of the investigation against you. You must have a competent defense that can break down the evidence the state has against you. Schedule your free case evaluation by contacting us at 602-926-7373 or filling out the contact form on this page.
Have you been charged with a crime? Get in touch with a qualified and professional Arizona Criminal Defense Lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your case! Our legal experts will fight for your rights and you will get you justice you deserve.