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How To Beat A Vehicular Manslaughter Charge In California


Probably one of the first things you’re going to want to think about and assess when you meet with your attorney is, whether an expert can make the difference in winning the case  In other words, hiring an accident reconstruction expert a lot of times is a great move when it comes to a vehicular manslaughter case because one of the biggest defenses has to do with causation.

In other words, being able to argue that somebody else caused the accident, and therefore, the death is not your fault or not our responsibility would be a complete defense to a vehicular manslaughter charge under California Penal Code Section 191.5 in any of the Los Angeles courtrooms.

Use of Accident Reconstruction Expert

So, part of laying the foundation for that defense is to have an accident reconstruction expert look at all the evidence in the case, and the police report  Sometimes the police will do an accident reconstruction.  In my experience, the police’s accident reconstruction person is usually weak, sloppy, doesn’t do a good job.

Sometimes it’s the detective who really isn’t an accident reconstruction expert, but has just investigated a number of accident and thinks they’re an accident reconstruction expert — makes conclusions and then in the end, when a real expert gets on the case — one that is hired by the defense, after they go through it they’re able to point out the flaws on the police work that has been done.

A lot of times I’ve won vehicular manslaughter cases and other cases where accidents were involved and deaths occurred because we’re able to show that my client is not the one that caused the death — that either the person who died caused their own death or some other third-party might have caused their death, or even some road defect could have caused the person’s death under the circumstances of the case.

Negotiate to a Lesser Charge

Obviously, it’s not a one-size-fits-all argument.  You don’t argue the same thing every time when it comes to vehicular manslaughter.  What you do is, you look at the facts of the case and then you use the law that’s available out there, common sense, and you make the argument to a jury or to the prosecutor to try to get the case dismissed.

Sometimes we’re able to get it mitigated down to a lesser charge.  To me, that would be beating a vehicular manslaughter charge.  If you’re charged with that, were able to get that dismissed and some lesser charge if you have any criminal culpability, then obviously that would be a success story as well.

I think the first step is to lay out all of the facts related to your case and to discuss it in a frank, common sense manner to really determine whether or not you or your loved one, if that’s who’s charged with a vehicular manslaughter charge — whether you should be criminally prosecuted for that, or whether it’s a situation where you have a defense and you shouldn’t be criminally prosecuted for that.

That’s done with your attorney.  That’s done with putting all the facts out there.  That’s done with having an expert sometimes evaluate all the facts.  Sometimes you don’t need an expert.  It really again just depends on the circumstances of your case.

Plea Bargain

Once you’ve made that determination whether you have a good defense, then you can move forward from there.  If there really isn’t a good defense and you’re likely going to lose in front of a jury, then you’re going to have to think of another way to beat the vehicular manslaughter case and that may mean try to negotiate a plea bargain that keeps you of jail and keeps you out of prison, depending on the circumstances of your case and your criminal record.

Or you decide that yes, we can beat the case; yes, we can be successful.  The facts are there for a complete defense to the crime or a defense that gets us some lesser charge.  Then we have to put together the investigative plan.  We have to put together the defense and put the pieces in place to successfully navigate that defense and be successful at a jury trial. All of these things can be done if you have the right case, the right defense lawyer and you have the right plan.

So, if you’re charged with vehicular manslaughter in Los Angeles and are looking to beat the case and looking to come up with a defense that makes sense for you, obviously you’re going to need to consult with a seasoned skilled California criminal defense attorney and you also might need the help and conjunction with that of somebody who is an accident reconstruction expert that can really help to start to put the pieces in place so that you can defend yourself, puts you in the best position to get a successful resolution in your matter.

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Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ.

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