What Happens When You Are Charged With Vehicular Homicide in Pittsburgh?
If you were charged with committing homicide while driving under the influence of alcohol or another controlled substance, no doubt you feel remorseful, overwhelmed and fearful for your future and the future of your family.
One bad mistake can mean being sent to prison, losing your job, and dealing with many obstacles for a long time to come.
Facing a homicide charge is a very scary thing. But it is important to remember that until proven guilty, you still have rights. Even if you are found to be guilty, an experienced criminal attorney who fully understands the Pennsylvania legal system can work to try to have the sentencing drastically reduced.
At SMT Legal, we are experienced and aggressive, yet compassionate DUI attorneys and homicide attorneys. We will work to defend your rights and protect your freedom.
Criminal Elements of a Vehicular Homicide
In order to be convicted of a DUI homicide, you MUST be found guilty of the DUI.
There are three elements to the crime of DUI homicide and all three must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The three elements are:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance;
- Death of another person;
- The death occurred as a direct result of the DUI.
Prosecutors have the burden of proving the criminal intent of the homicide beyond a reasonable doubt to get a conviction. In DUI homicide cases, the intent is criminal negligence.
“Criminal intent” in this instance means a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation. If the prosecution can prove the DUI, this will satisfy the criminal negligence element of the crime.
The DUI portion of the crime is crucial to your case. There are many ways a strong defense team can disprove evidence and police reports. An experienced attorney will review the facts specific to your case and work tirelessly to disprove evidence to get the DUI charges dropped.
DUI Homicide cases often require expert witnesses and testimony for both sides. This can include professional chemical testing, substance abuse experts, private detectives and accident recreations. You need a knowledgeable and well-prepared attorney to help craft your defense because the prosecution is sure to be prepared.
At SMT Legal, we will fight the prosecutors to show weaknesses in their case and be aggressive in demonstrating doubt that you were negligent or intoxicated.
Penalties for DUI Homicide
The penalties for a homicide that can be directly linked to a DUI are very severe. A homicide conviction in Pennsylvania is considered a second degree felony.
If you are found guilty of DUI Homicide, you can expect the following punishment:
- Minimum of three years in prison with a maximum of up to ten years;
- A fine of up to $25,000;
- A suspended driver’s license;
- A felony on your permanent record
You will be charged with one count of homicide for each person that dies as a direct result of your DUI. If found guilty of more than one DUI homicide, the sentences will be served consecutively.
Understanding Your Rights and Fighting DUI Charges
We know that people make mistakes and that sometimes people are not even guilty of the crimes they are charged with – that is why we fight hard for our clients to ensure every protection available under the law.
At SMT Legal we understand the challenges you face, but we also will fight aggressively for your freedom. We will closely investigate all evidence, police reports and talk to any witnesses that may be helpful in fighting for your liberties.
If the police did not follow proper procedures or you it may be possible to have your entire case dismissed and off your record.
In addition to having a case dismissed, there are many different ways to plea a case and have your sentencing reduced. Our Pittsburgh DUI attorneys will take into account every possible factor in order to have your sentencing reduced and your license reinstated as soon as possible. Contact SMT Legal for a free evaluation of your case.