Pennsylvania DUI Homicide
Homicide While Under the Influence
When tragedy strikes, it turns our world upside down. When you are involved in a motor vehicle accident that results in death, it is understandable to become overwhelmed with feelings of survival guilt and regret, regardless of whether or not you played a role in that person’s death. The emotional scars from such a severe accident can last a long time, not to mention the consequences of being charged and convicted of vehicular homicide will ripple through every aspect of your life.
At Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford, P.C., we realize that accidents happen and that even the best of us make mistakes that could cost a person their freedom and future. When you are facing the terrifying charge of homicide by vehicle while DUI, our compassionate defense attorneys can help you understand your rights and options. Our Pennsylvania DUI homicide attorneys always take a team approach to help our clients solve their legal problems. As a team, we may be able to help reduce your sentence or have your DUI homicide charges dropped.
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When Can Someone Be Charged With DUI Homicide?
In Pennsylvania, someone can be charged with vehicular homicide while driving under the influence when unintentionally causing a fatal accident because they were impaired by alcohol or drugs. The prosecutor will be faced with the burden of proof of proving the following elements before the alleged offender can be found guilty.
- They killed someone
- The victim was killed because they were operating or driving the vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- They were impaired by alcohol or drugs at the time of the accident.
Prosecutors do not have to prove that the defendant’s BAC was above a certain level to demonstrate they were impaired. They can rely on other evidence to demonstrate that the defendant was intoxicated or impaired, including traffic cameras and witness testimony.
With the various pieces of evidence that prosecutors can use to prove that you were intoxicated or impaired, it is essential to get help from a talented DUI homicide defense lawyer who knows how to build strong defenses regardless of how strong of a case the prosecution thinks they have.
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What Are the Penalties for DUI Homicide?
Those in Pennsylvania who are convicted of homicide by vehicle while DUI face serious penalties that can impact them for the rest of their lives. For a first offense, the following penalties may apply:
- Second-degree felony: a minimum of three years in prison and three years consecutive for each victim
- First-degree felony (with prior DUI offense on their record): a minimum of five years in prison if they have one prior DUI offense or seven years in prison if they have two prior DUIs
- Fines of up to $25,000
Other considerations which can increase a prison sentence include whether the accident occurred in a construction zone, whether the accident involved an emergency vehicle, the number of victims who were killed, and whether they were on parole or probation at the time of the accident. These factors can result in much longer prison sentences.
Pennsylvania Murder DUI Laws
If the defendant has prior DUIs on their record, they can be charged with DUI murder which is a charge of Murder in the third degree. When prosecuting someone for murder in the third degree, the government must prove that the defendant killed the victim with malice. They do not need to prove it was intentional or premeditated, simply that it was negligence or recklessness, disregarding the threat posed to human life by their conduct.
Murder in the third degree has a maximum sentence of forty years. Even for defendants with no prior criminal record, the standard guidelines range sentence for a conviction for DUI charged as third-degree murder is the standard range sentencing for a conviction for DUI cases charged as third degree murder start at six or seven years.
What Other Consequences Could Someone Convicted of DUI Homicide Face?
The consequences of a DUI homicide conviction are far-reaching and can impact many facets of a person’s life. Other consequences of this conviction include:
- Civil liability as a result of wrongful death
- Car insurance rates skyrocketing (if they are able to drive again)
- Professional license suspended
- Lose the ability to own a firearm
- Lose eligibility for student loans
- Face difficulties getting hired
To help prevent a DUI homicide conviction from completely turning your life upside down, contact a skilled and trusted DUI homicide attorney in Pennsylvania.
What Are the Possible Defenses Against DUI Homicide Charges?
When you retain a defense lawyer for DUI homicide charges in Pennsylvania, they will carefully analyze the evidence to identify the best potential defense strategy for your case. There tend to be fewer defenses available in DUI homicide cases than in other homicide cases because the requisite mental state is recklessness. In other words, the defense cannot argue self-defense. However, an attorney may still be able to defend you by proving that your actions did not cause the victim’s death.
For instance, if a defendant hits and kills a pedestrian who ran in front of them mid-block instead of a crosswalk, their actions may not have been the cause of the victim’s death. While these circumstances may not be enough to obtain a case dismissal, an attorney might be able to convince the prosecution to reduce the charges.
Hire a Talented Pennsylvania DUI Homicide Attorney Today
Building a strong defense against a DUI homicide charge can be a complex process. A DUI homicide lawyer often needs to have the resources and skills to retain experts to help build the defense against the charges. They must investigate the case thoroughly to identify the best possible defense strategy.
At Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford, P.C., we believe that everyone deserves access to fair representation and treatment. We know that facing just severe charges can seem overwhelming, but our team is here to guide you through the process to secure the best possible outcomes. Contact our firm today to start working with talented defense attorneys who will aggressively protect your rights and best interests. You can schedule a consultation by completing our contact form or calling (215) 822-7575.