In New Jersey, a person can be convicted of “vehicular homicide” (sometimes called “vehicular manslaughter”) for causing the death of another person by operating a vehicle or boat recklessly.
Recklessness. A person operates a vehicle or boat recklessly by consciously disregarding a “substantial and unjustifiable risk.” In other words, the person knows the manner of driving or boating poses a significant danger to others but decides to do it anyway.
Causation. A driver can’t be convicted of vehicular homicide unless there’s proof that the reckless driving was a cause of the victim’s death. It’s not enough to merely show the defendant drove recklessly and someone died—there needs to be a link between the reckless driving and the death.
Permissible inferences. If the prosecution proves certain circumstances, the jury can—but doesn’t have to—infer the defendant was operating the vehicle or boat recklessly. These include:
Some of these circumstances can also increase the penalties for a vehicular homicide conviction. (See below.)
The consequences of a vehicular homicide conviction depend on the circumstances. But generally, the possible penalties are:
HOW MUCH TIME WOULD YOU ACTUALLY SPEND IN JAIL?
Sentencing law is complex. For example, a statute might list a “minimum” jail sentence that’s longer than the actual amount of time (if any) a defendant will have to spend behind bars. All kinds of factors can affect actual punishment, including credits for good in-custody behavior and jail-alternative work programs.
If you face criminal charges, consult an experienced criminal defense lawyer. An attorney with command of the rules in your jurisdiction will be able to explain the law as it applies to your situation.
Vehicular homicide is a serious crime in New Jersey. If you’ve been arrested for vehicular homicide—or any other crime—get in contact with a criminal defense attorney right away. The facts of every case are different. An experienced defense attorney can explain how the law applies to the facts of your case and help you decide on the best plan of action.