Motor Vehicle Homicide Massachusetts | Massachusetts Motor Vehicle Homicide

MOTOR VEHICLE HOMICIDE MASSACHUSETTS

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MOTOR VEHICLE HOMICIDE MASSACHUSETTS

Pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 24G, the crime of Homicide by Motor Vehicle can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony offense. Whether charged as a misdemeanor or felony, both carry a minimum mandatory jail or state prison sentence.


Misdemeanor Motor Vehicle Homicide

In Massachusetts, whoever operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, recklessly, or negligently so that the lives or safety of the public may be endangered, and by such operation causes the death of another person, shall be found guilty of misdemeanor motor vehicle homicide. 


While alcohol or drugs may be a factor, the prosecution is not required to prove the defendant was under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance. Generally, if alcohol or drugs is a factor and there was a death, the defendant will be charged with felony motor vehicle homicide.

An individual convicted of misdemeanor motor vehicle homicide is subject to the following penalties:

  • Minimum mandatory 30-day jail sentence
  • Up to 2 ½ years in jail
  • Up to a $3,000 fine
  • 15-year license loss

Felony Motor Vehicle Homicide

To be found guilty of felony motor vehicle homicide, the prosecution must prove the defendant, while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, operated a vehicle recklessly or negligently so that the lives or safety of the public may be endangered, and by such operation caused the death of another person. Unlike the misdemeanor charge, the prosecution must prove the defendant was under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance and operated a motor vehicle recklessly or negligently thereby causing the death of another person.

Any person found guilty of felony motor vehicle homicide is subject to the following penalties:

  • Minimum mandatory 1-year jail / prison sentence
  • Up to 15 years in state prison
  • Up to $5,000 fine
  • 15-year license loss

Possible Defenses to Motor Vehicle Homicide Charges

 

Criminal cases involving death evoke strong emotions from witnesses and jurors at trial and it is a criminal defense lawyer’s job to make sure jurors set aside their emotions and base the verdict on whether or not the prosecution proved each and every element of the crimes charged beyond a reasonable doubt.

 

  • Defendant Not Under the Influence

While the defendant being under the influence of alcohol or drugs is not required to obtain a conviction on the misdemeanor charge, it can be a defense to the misdemeanor offense in some cases. In cases where the defendant is charged with felony motor vehicle homicide, the prosecution’s failure to prove the defendant was under the influence will result in an acquittal on the felony charge.

 

  • Defendant Not Driving Recklessly or Negligently

In felony motor vehicle homicide cases, in addition to proving the defendant was under the influence, the prosecution must prove the defendant operated a motor vehicle recklessly or negligently and such operation caused the death of another person. As such, failing to prove the defendant was driving recklessly or negligently will result in a Not Guilty of the felony charge.

 

In cases involving misdemeanor motor vehicle homicide, if there is no allegation or evidence the defendant was under the influence, failing to prove the defendant operated negligently or recklessly will result in an acquittal.

 

  • Other Cause of Death

In some cases, there may be evidence the death was caused by something other than the defendant’s driving. For example, evidence that the death was caused by a health issue (e.g., heart attack) prior to the accident is a defense to both misdemeanor and felony motor vehicle homicide.

 

Contact a Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney

Motor vehicle homicide charges carry the potential for serious penalties, including a minimum mandatory jail or state prison sentence and lengthy driver’s license loss. If you or a loved one have been charged with motor vehicle homicide, it is important you hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer to represent you in court. 

 

Riccio Law, LLC represents individuals throughout Massachusetts who have been charged with misdemeanor and felony crimes, including charges of a motor vehicle homicide. Contact us here or at (508) 226-4500 immediately to schedule a free case evaluation.

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