Vehicular Manslaughter Overview
Driving a vehicle requires constant attention to its surroundings, and an anticipation for any kind of hazards that may present themselves. In some cases, a driver may (intentionally or unintentionally) do something that results in the death of a fellow person. Vehicular manslaughter occurs when, according to California Penal Code 192, the driver either commits an unlawful act (that is not a felony) or a lawful one that can result in death. In both cases, the driver could have acted with gross negligence, which affects the punishment. Gross negligence is defined as knowingly acting in a careless way that can result in bodily injury. Furthermore, in order for it to be considered vehicular manslaughter, the ensuing death must have been a direct, natural, and probable consequence of the lawful/unlawful act while driving.
In some cases, an individual seeking financial gain from their insurance company will purposefully act in a reckless manner so that their car becomes damaged. While attempting to damage their vehicle, the driver can also end up killing someone else. If this occurs, they will be charged with a specific type of vehicular manslaughter that is for financial gain.
Punishments for Vehicular Manslaughter
This charge can receive various punishments depending on the nature of the crime. If the crime occurred with gross negligence, it becomes a wobbler offense as the perpetrator can be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony. If in this category they are charged with a felony, the defendant faces up to six years in a California state prison facility, probation, and a fine. However, if they are convicted of a misdemeanor with gross negligence, the defendant faces only one year in a county jail, along with probation and a fine. As explained, if the defendant committed vehicular manslaughter because they were intent on committing auto insurance fraud, they then face up to ten years in a California state prison.