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Most of us rely on our automobiles and use them every day. But driving a car is also dangerous and sometimes can result in serious injury or death.

In certain circumstances, a driver whose actions result in another’s death may face criminal charges, even if the person’s death was unintentional. Criminal vehicular homicide or manslaughter is a very serious offense, and a person convicted of such a crime faces the very real prospect of going to prison.

If you or someone you know is facing criminal vehicular homicide charges, contact a qualified Minnesota criminal defense attorney right away. 

What Is Criminal Vehicular Manslaughter?

Under Minnesota law, criminal vehicular manslaughter occurs when a person operates a vehicle in a criminally unsafe manner.

A person may face criminal vehicular homicide charges when they:

  • Operate a vehicle in a grossly negligent manner;
  • Drive negligently while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both;
  • Drive negligently while under the influence of another substance they should know can cause impairment; or
  • Leave the scene of an accident they caused.

A driver may also face charges if he or she had previously received a ticket for a defective vehicle and the defect caused the other person’s death.

Penalties for Criminal Vehicular Homicide in Minnesota 

Criminal vehicular homicide is a felony offense in Minnesota. 

Criminal penalties include:

  • A prison sentence of up to ten years,
  • A fine of up to $20,000, or
  • A combination of fines and prison.

In addition, if you commit criminal vehicular manslaughter while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and the offense occurs within ten years of a prior driving offense, you may face up to fifteen years in prison.

Besides criminal sentences, felonies can affect you in several ways long after you complete your prison term and pay your fines.

If convicted of a felony, you may suffer other consequences, including:

  • Difficulty finding a job,
  • Trouble finding and qualifying for housing, and
  • Problems obtaining student loans for education expenses.

If you are facing criminal vehicular manslaughter charges, it is important to speak with an experienced Minnesota criminal defense attorney. Your attorney understands the law and can help you navigate the legal process and develop a strong legal defense.

Defenses to Criminal Vehicular Manslaughter

Our criminal vehicular manslaughter defense attorney can help you determine which defenses apply to your case. The prosecution bears the burden of proving your guilt. This means a prosecutor must present sufficient evidence to prove each element of the offense. An experienced lawyer will challenge the sufficiency or the accuracy of the evidence.

For example, your attorney may argue that  you were not sufficiently intoxicated during the accident, that your actions were not negligent or did not cause the crash, or that you were not driving the car.

Other defenses to criminal vehicular manslaughter may include involuntary intoxication.

Minnesota law also specifically states that a person will not face criminal vehicular manslaughter charges if they have a controlled substance in their bodies but used the substance according to the directions on a prescription.

How Can a Lawyer Help?

Criminal vehicular manslaughter charges are very serious. Establishing a legal defense can be a complex and confusing process. A skilled criminal defense attorney understands the law, court procedures, and how to use available facts to create a strong defense. Your attorney will manage your case and take the pressure off you.

Your attorney will:

  • Perform a thorough factual investigation,
  • Gather witness statements,
  • Collect police reports and medical documents,
  • Negotiate with the prosecuting attorney,
  • Research and analyze the relevant laws, and
  • Represent you in court and present a compelling defense at trial.

Contact a Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney Today

The experienced lawyers at Arechigo & Stokka, P.A., provide top-quality legal representation to our clients throughout Minnesota. We know that facing criminal charges is a scary and life-changing event. We care deeply about our clients and fight tirelessly to defend their interests.

Our lawyers provide hands-on, personalized legal services. We are a dedicated team that will thoroughly analyze your claim and assist you every step of the way. For a free consultation, call our offices at 651-222-6603 or fill out an online form today. 

Author Photo John T. Arechigo, Esq.

Attorney John Arechigo has a passion for criminal defense in St. Paul, MN. John received his J.D., from Hamline University School of Law and also carries a Bachelor of Arts from, The University of Minnesota. John was named Attorney of the Year for 2019 by Minnesota Lawyer. Additionally, John was also named as a 2019 Rising Star and was selected to Minnesota Super Lawyers in 2021. He devotes nearly 100% of his practice to defending individuals charged with a crime.

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