Vehicular Manslaughter


  • Former Felony Prosecutor

  • Former Police Detective

  • Twenty Years Criminal Defense

In Arizona, a person can be prosecuted for manslaughter if they:

  1. Recklessly cause the death of another person
  2. Commit a murder without pre-meditation during a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion
  3. Assist another person to commit suicide
  4. Cause the death of an unborn child by injuring the child's mother

Types of Vehicular Manslaughter:

Where an accident occurs and someone dies, a driver can be charged with vehicular manslaughter if the state believes they operated their vehicular in a reckless manner.  Cases in which drivers may be charged with vehicular manslaughter in Arizona include:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI):

         In vehicular manslaughter cases involving alcohol or drugs, the prosecutor will allege that a driver caused an accident which caused another person's death.  The prosecutor will also try to prove that at the time of the accident, the driver was impaired by alcohol, illegal drugs, marijuana or prescription medication.  

  • Speeding:

        A driver's speed may result in manslaughter charges where a death occurs and police conclude a vehicle was operated above 35 miles per hour in a school zone, greater than 20 miles per hour above the posted speed limit or in excess of 85 miles per hour on any highway.  Speeding can also result in manslaughter charges if a driver is simply operating a vehicle to fast in light of existing traffic or road conditions.

  • Aggressive Driving:

         In cases where a person drives at an unsafe speed and commits at least two other violations including failing to obey a traffic control device, overtaking another vehicle on the right, making an unsafe lane change or following another car to closely they can be charged with manslaughter if an accident resulting in death occurs.

  • Racing:

         Speed competitions, drag races, acceleration contests or exhibitions of speed on a public roadway can lead to a vehicular manslaughter charge if an accident occurs and someone is killed.

Penalties for Vehicular Manslaughter in Arizona:

In Arizona, vehicular manslaughter is a very serious offense and is classified as a class 2 dangerous felony.  Consequently, a person convicted of this charge is required to serve a term in prison between 7 and 21 years.  The presumptive or "normal" sentence is 10.5 years.  This can be increased or decreased depending upon the presence of aggravating or mitigating factors such as prior convictions, alcohol concentration, remorse, etc. 

Defenses to Vehicular Manslaughter Charges:

To be convicted of manslaughter, a jury must determine that a driver acted recklessly, and consciously disregarded a known risk which he or she should have been aware of.  A prosecutor must prove that a driver did not act like someone would reasonably be expected to behave in the same situation.  

Steps which can be taken to defend against a vehicular manslaughter charge include:

  1. Hiring an accident reconstruction expert to investigate whether you were actually the "at fault" driver or disputing conclusions that you may have been speeding
  2. Hiring an engineer to examine your vehicle for mechanical issues which may have contributed to the accident
  3. Retaining experts such as retired police officers to impeach the police investigation
  4. Challenging results of blood, breath or urine tests to show that you were not impaired to drive at the time of the accident
  5. Suppressing evidence or confessions obtained by police following an illegal search or failure to give Miranda warnings.

Talk to an Experienced Phoenix Criminal Attorney Today:

If you have been charged with vehicular manslaughter it is vital that you immediately contact a highly skilled criminal defense lawyer. It is important to preserve and examine vital evidence such as the automobile you were driving, blood or urine samples, video and audio tapes, etc immediately.   Raymond Kimble has been defending people charged with vehicular crimes for many years, and has the level of experience and skill it takes to effectively handle these types of cases. Mr. Kimble knows how to prepare a solid defense, challenge the prosecution's evidence, negotiate a favorable resolution and effectively represent you at trial.