Homicide, Assault, Vehicular Manslaughter
California law has expanded the definition of murder to permit fatal car accidents and other forms of dangerous behavior to be prosecuted as murder and punished with a life sentence. A person who is driving negligently or commits a traffic infraction and causes a death can be charged with a misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charge. (Penal Code section 192(c)(2).) If the driving is grossly negligent, the charge can become a felony vehicular manslaughter charge. (Penal Code section 192(c)(1).) There are separate sections that apply if the driver is under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs at the time of the accident. (Simple negligence - Penal Code section 191.5(b); gross negligence – Penal Code section 191.5(a).) In cases where the driver has prior driving under the influence convictions or where the driving is extremely dangerous, the District Attorney’s Office can prosecute the driver under the statute applicable to conventional murders. (Penal Code section 187.)
Although many cases involving charges of homicide, including vehicular manslaughter, resolve prior to trial, attorneys at Nolan Barton Bradford & Olmos have successfully defended numerous clients charged with homicides at trial. The firm has won outright acquittals in homicide cases, including several involving charges of murder, as well as determinations of not guilty by reason of insanity and convictions of lesser offenses. The firm has the resources and expertise to defend clients accused of the most serious offenses.