HOMICIDE BY A MOTOR VEHICLE (FELONY)

HOMICIDE BY A MOTOR VEHICLE (FELONY)

This post will answer the following questions on the criminal offense of homicide by a motor vehicle:

  • What does Commonwealth law have to say on the criminal offense of homicide by a motor vehicle?
  • How does the Commonwealth prove a defendant guilty of the criminal offense of homicide by a motor vehicle?
  • Is a defendant convicted of a felony vehicular homicide ever eligible for parole?

What does Commonwealth law have to say on the criminal offense of homicide by a motor vehicle?

Commonwealth law states:

“Whoever, upon any way or in any place to which the public has a right of access, or upon any way or in any place to which members of the public have access as invitees or licensees, operates a motor vehicle with a percentage, by weight, of alcohol in their blood of eight one-hundredths or greater, or while under the influences of intoxicating liquor or [certain drugs]…and so operates a motor vehicle recklessly or negligently so that the lives or safety of the public may be endangered, and by any such operation so described causes the death of another person, shall be guilty of homicide by a motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicating substance…”

In other words, if a person in any publically accessible location recklessly or negligently operates a motor vehicle with a .08 or more blood-alcohol level or is under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs in general in a dangerous manner and strikes or kills one or more people doing so, that person will be found guilty of homicide by a motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicating substance.

How does the Commonwealth prove a defendant guilty of the criminal offense of homicide by a motor vehicle?

In order to prove the Commonwealth guilty of the offense of homicide by a motor vehicle, the Commonwealth must prove ALL of the following beyond a reasonable doubt (ALL):

  • That the defendant operated a motor vehicle
  • That the defendant operated a motor vehicle on a way or in a place where the public have access as invitees or licenses
  • That while the defendant was operating the vehicle, he or she (ONE OR MORE):
  • Had a percentage, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood of .08% or greater
  • Was under the influence of intoxicating liquor
  • Was under the influence of marijuana, narcotic drugs, depressants, or simulant substances
  • (If reckless operation is alleged) That the defendant operated the vehicle in a manner which is considered “reckless”under the laws of the Commonwealth
  • (If negligent operation is alleged) That the defendant operated the vehicle in a negligent manner so that more than the lives and safety of public might have been endangered
  • That the defendant’s actions caused the death of another person

Note that the defendant is legally considered to have caused the death if his or her actions directly and substantially set in motion the entire chain of events that produced the death. The defendant is the cause of death if his or her actions produced it in a natural and continuous sequence, and the death would not have occurred without the defendant’s actions.

Is a defendant convicted of a felony vehicular homicide ever eligible for parole?

 YES, a defendant convicted of felony vehicular homicide can be eligible for parole and good conduct deductions, provided that the convicted serves the mandatory one-year imprisonment requirement.

\IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH HOMICIDE BY A MOTOR VEHICLE, AND YOU NEED AN EXPERIENCED CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER WORKING ON YOUR SIDE TO PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS, PLEASE CONTACT CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY WILLIAM J. BARABINO.

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