Thousands of fatal accidents happen each year across the country, including many in Tennessee. Many of them are simply tragic accidents, but some are more than that. Upon conducting an investigation into a fatal crash, law enforcement officials may discover that certain factors make the accident a crime.
In those cases, the driver believed responsible could end up facing charges for vehicular homicide. The law characterizes this crime as negligent or dangerous driving that leads to another person's death. Essentially, a motor vehicle serves as the weapon in this particular crime. A number of different scenarios can lead to such a charge.
Driving scenarios that could result in criminal charges
Some circumstances that could result in police charging you with vehicular homicide include the following:
- Alcohol-related crashes: It may seem obvious that driving drunk and causing a fatal crash could lead to criminal charges. However, in order for prosecutors to secure a conviction, they must first prove to the court beyond a reasonable doubt that you actually got behind the wheel of your car while legally intoxicated, which means that your blood alcohol concentration was .08 or higher.
- Reckless or negligent crashes: If officials believe that you drove recklessly or negligently, you could face charges as well. In order to prevail under this theory, prosecutors would need to show that you knew your driving behavior was negligent or reckless, but did it anyway.
Other traffic offenses could also lead to a vehicular homicide charge, depending on the circumstances.
What to do if you face charges for vehicular homicide
Facing accusations of a crime can cause a great deal of stress, anxiety and fear. Perhaps you even feel some guilt since you were involved in an accident that led to the death of another person. However, it doesn't mean that you are guilty of a crime. Many accidents are just that -- terrible accidents. Unfortunately, you may find yourself needing to show that to the court.
As is the case with any other criminal charges, you retain the right to challenge them. You may review the supposed evidence against you that prosecutors intend to present to the court and confront witnesses who may testify against you. Another right you have that remains just as important, if not more important, concerns your right to representation by counsel.
Having the right to a legal advocate at your side could prove invaluable as you mount a defense to the charges. Considering the severity of the charges and the potentially serious penalties you face, the choices you make could have profound effects on your future.