Criminal Defense of Vehicular Homicide

Criminal Defense of vehicular homicide in Louisiana is charged in the following circumstances, statute in blue below. A criminal defense trial for vehicular homicide is procedurally like any other serious felony, in that it is a very serious charge that takes a tremendous effort and skill level to properly defend; except that the criminal defense of vehicular homicide also requires a criminal defense attorney with considerable skill at defending DWI charges.

It is important to note here that there is a difference between what the police charge and what the District Attorney charges. The police arrest people on charges that they determine are the most appropriate under the circumstances. Police officers are not attorneys. The District Attorney will normally take the evidence of arrest and investigation and make a determination as to the proper charge, or the charge that the DA feels he/she can prove at a trial on the matter. What a police officer perceives and what can be proven at trial are often times two very different charges.

This is obviously a very serious charge and requires a very serious criminal defense. The attorney you hire must have extensive experience in defending DWI charges and have the resources and information to bring a skilled defense, including experts specific to the DWI defense world. There are a number of experts that can be engaged in these cases, crash scene experts, physicians and other professional to testify to intoxication and impairment, experts in the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, experts in the Intoxilyzer 5000, experts in blood draw analysis, etc… Knowing when to use each of these experts and how to effectively use limited financial resources, is an essential part of the defense of this kind of case.

Keeping that in mind, it is important to note that La. R.S. 14:32.1, sec A(4), requires only that the “operator is under the influence of alcoholic beverages”. Literally read that means any level of alcohol consumption and you could be held criminally liable. However, there is some good law in Louisiana where the Courts have stated that the ‘influence’ must include ‘impairment’ and not merely consumption. You must hire a criminal defense attorney with experience in these cases to defend you in this kind of legal proceeding.

If you, or someone you know, has been charged with vehicular homicide, hire a skilled criminal defense attorney immediately. Call The Ambeau Law Firm, and we will start the fight from the first day, and work diligently to get you the best outcome possible in your criminal defense matter.

La. R. S. 14:32.1.  Vehicular homicide

A.  Vehicular homicide is the killing of a human being caused proximately or caused directly by an offender engaged in the operation of, or in actual physical control of, any motor vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, or other means of conveyance, whether or not the offender had the intent to cause death or great bodily harm, whenever any of the following conditions exists and such condition was a contributing factor to the killing:

(1)  The operator is under the influence of alcoholic beverages as determined by chemical tests administered under the provisions of R.S. 32:662.

(2)  The operator’s blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 percent or more by weight based upon grams of alcohol per one hundred cubic centimeters of blood.

(3)  The operator is under the influence of any controlled dangerous substance listed in Schedule I, II, III, IV, or V as set forth in R.S. 40:964.

(4)  The operator is under the influence of alcoholic beverages.

(5)(a)  The operator is under the influence of a combination of alcohol and one or more drugs which are not controlled dangerous substances and which are legally obtainable with or without a prescription.

(b)  It shall be an affirmative defense to any charge under this Paragraph pursuant to this Section that the label on the container of the prescription drug or the manufacturer’s package of the drug does not contain a warning against combining the medication with alcohol.

(6)  The operator is under the influence of one or more drugs which are not controlled dangerous substances and which are legally obtainable with or without a prescription and the influence is caused by the operator knowingly consuming quantities of the drug or drugs which substantially exceed the dosage prescribed by the physician or the dosage recommended by the manufacturer of the drug.

(7)  The operator’s blood has any detectable amount of any controlled dangerous substance listed in Schedule I, II, III, or IV as set forth in R.S. 40:964, or a metabolite of such controlled dangerous substance, that has not been medically ordered or prescribed for the individual.

B.  Whoever commits the crime of vehicular homicide shall be fined not less than two thousand dollars nor more than fifteen thousand dollars and shall be imprisoned with or without hard labor for not less than five years nor more than thirty years.  At least three years of the sentence of imprisonment shall be imposed without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence.  If the operator’s blood alcohol concentration is 0.15 percent or more by weight based upon grams of alcohol per one hundred cubic centimeters of blood, then at least five years of the sentence of imprisonment shall be imposed without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence.  If the offender was previously convicted of a violation of R.S. 14:98, then at least five years of the sentence of imprisonment shall be imposed without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence.  The court shall require the offender to participate in a court-approved substance abuse program and may require the offender to participate in a court-approved driver improvement program.  All driver improvement courses required under this Section shall include instruction on railroad grade crossing safety.

Disclaimer: These codes may not be the most recent version. The Legislature of the State of Louisiana may have more current or accurate information. The Ambeau Law Firm makes no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy or completeness of the information contained on this page – please consult your attorney and/or check official sources.

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