New York Penal Law § 125.12: Vehicular manslaughter in the second degree

In New York, you may be charged with vehicular manslaughter if you kill someone while driving. There are different degrees of vehicular manslaughter that carry varying penalties. Under New York Penal Law § 125.12, you may be charged with vehicular manslaughter in the second degree if you:

  • operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated with drugs or alcohol, and as a result of such intoxication cause the death of another person;
  • operate a motor vehicle under impairment by the use of alcohol, while driving with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 18,000 of flammable gas, radioactive materials or explosives, and such flammable gas, radioactive materials or explosives causes another’s death; or
  • operate a snowmobile or all terrain vehicle while intoxicated, and as a result of such intoxication or impairment, operate a snowmobile or all terrain vehicle in a manner that causes the death of another person.

Under the Penal Law, if it is established that the person operating a motor vehicle, vessel, public vessel, snowmobile or all terrain vehicle caused a death while intoxicated or impaired, then there is a rebuttable presumption that you operated the motor vehicle, vessel, public vessel,snowmobile or all terrain vehicle in a manner that caused the death.

What penalties might you face if convicted on vehicular manslaughter in the second degree?
Vehicular manslaughter in the second degree is a class D felony. If convicted, you could face a 7 year jail sentence. Your driving privileges may be revoked or suspended. You may also face significant fines and restitution to be paid to the victim’s family.

Are there any defenses to vehicular manslaughter in the second degree?
Because vehicular manslaughter in the second degree depends on several factors, there may be defenses available. These include:

  • Challenging the evidence of intoxication–the prosecution must be able to show that you were intoxicated or impaired by drugs or alcohol. To do this, there must have been reliable testing completed that complied with recognized procedures. Sometimes the testing procedures were done incorrectly, which could result in the evidence being excluded.
  • Challenging causation–if it can be shown the the person’s death came from some other source and that your actions did not cause the death, then this information could be presented to rebut the assumption that the accident caused their death
  • Violation of constitutional rights–if the police or prosecution violate your constitutional rights during the investigation or course of the case, then you may be able to have certain evidence excluded and possibly have the case dismissed

What should you do if charged with vehicular manslaughter in the second degree?
If you are charged with vehicular manslaughter in the second degree, you should seek out immediate legal representation from an experienced New York criminal defense attorney. An attorney has a duty to advocate on your behalf and will work with you to accomplish the best outcome possible under the circumstances.

An attorney can review the evidence against you to help you understand the strengths and weaknesses of the case. They can identify any potential defenses that can be presented. An attorney will negotiate with the prosecution for a possible plea agreement, or take your case to trial if negotiations fail or the offers are unreasonable.

Because vehicular manslaughter in the second degree carries significant penalties, it is important that you have a lawyer on your side who will protect your interests and help you make informed decisions. Call us today if you are facing charges for vehicular manslaughter in the second degree.

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