Negligent Homicide Attorney in Lansing
Homicide is such a strong, emotional, powerful word; it can immediately instigate fear, horror, sadness, anger, regret and confusion. There are different types of homicide including justifiable homicide, negligent homicide, murder (first degree and second degree) and manslaughter. Each type carries different meanings, penalties and degrees of fault. Negligent Homicide can be especially hard to understand and navigate. Since negligent homicide varies between states, it’s important to work with a local Lansing criminal defense team like Grabel & Associates. The right violent crime attorney will not only guide you through the process and the possible negligent homicide charges brought against you, but will also know the specific laws, penal codes and defense strategies inside and out. In negligent homicide, your innocence and freedom are at stake and we take that very seriously.
What is Negligent Homicide?
In 1921, Michigan became the first state to pass a negligent homicide statute after much deliberation about the fairness of applying an involuntary manslaughter charge to drivers involved in accidents causing death. It was generally accepted that many such cases did not present the same level of willful and reckless disregard for human life as other crimes in the same category, so the term “negligent homicide” was created to distinguish vehicular deaths caused by negligence from more egregious crimes.
For many years, negligent homicide was synonymous with vehicular homicide. However, in 2009, Michigan again reconsidered the fairness of applying a uniform law to cases with wide degrees of culpability, and repealed its negligent homicide law in favor of two new statutes: reckless driving causing death and moving violation causing death. Both went into effect in late 2010 and remain the standards for crimes that would previously have been charged with negligent homicide.
Reckless Driving Causing Death
Reckless driving causing death is a charge that applies to situations where the driver was acting in “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” While this definition leaves room for the court's interpretation of the defendant's actions, qualifying acts are those which most reasonable people would know to be dangerous, such as driving at excessive speeds, drag racing, passing multiple vehicles around a curve in the road, etc. If the defendant should have reasonably known his actions were unsafe to other vehicles but chose to drive in this manner anyway, accidentally causing a death in the process, he can be charged with this felony.
Reckless driving can occur in any public area -not just on public roads. If you are driving recklessly in a parking lot, on a frozen public lake or stream, or any other public area, you can be charged with reckless driving. However, because the term “reckless” is somewhat vague, the prosecution may attempt to elevate what is truly a moving violation into a reckless driving charge, and under the current terms of the law, the jury is not allowed to be instructed in the alternative charge of moving violation causing death.
Since the penalty for reckless driving causing death is a maximum of 15 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine instead of a single year in jail and a $2,000 fine, making sure the charges are accurate is vital. If you've been charged with reckless driving and believe there is a chance that you may only be guilty of a moving violation, contact an attorney immediately.
Moving Violation Causing Death
A moving violation causing death does not require the driver to be purposefully acting in disregard for human life. Any time you violate one of the rules of the road – by failing to yield, running a stop sign, or driving too close to other vehicles, for example – and cause someone's death, you can be charged with this crime. Unlike reckless driving causing death, however, this offense is considered a misdemeanor, since there was no intentional or flagrant disregard for human life. In layman's terms, the victim’s death was an accident.
A moving violation causing death is punishable by up to one year in the county jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.
Defense for Negligent Homicide
The modern criminal justice system is complex. Prosecutors, police and the government will spare no expense or effort in trying to convict you, especially if they are trying to call attention to an issue and make an example of your case. Having an experienced, knowledgeable criminal defense team on your side is paramount. It can mean the difference between an innocent or guilty conviction, as well as your freedom. The Grabel & Associates team has been practicing law in the state of Michigan for a combined 100 years and each of our attorneys is empathetic to your situation. We understand the fear and anxiety you are likely experiencing, and we’re here to help you get through it with the best possible result. If you’re facing “negligent homicide” charges, or any homicide or criminal charges, contact us today. We have a free emergency consultation line set up to help 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-342-7896.