Most people never want to hurt others, let alone be responsible for the death of another person. However, if an individual’s negligent driving leads to a Maryland death, vehicular homicide (manslaughter) charges may apply.
Although less severe than a murder charge, a vehicular homicide comes with stiff penalties upon conviction. In most situations, these charges arise because of negligence. For example, if someone drives while intoxicated and cause a fatal accident, a court may find their conduct negligent.
Criminal vs. gross negligence
In Maryland, there exists a distinction between criminal negligence and gross negligence, but both are considered severe.
Criminal negligence may be a factor when defendants fail to understand that their actions disregard the safety of others. For example, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol creates unjustifiable risks to other people, and the defendant should have known about these risks.
Gross negligence may occur when defendants know that their actions put others at risk, but they engage in the behavior anyway. For example, say the defendant had negligently caused or contributed to drunk driving accidents in the past. If they drive while drunk anyway and cause a fatal crash, gross negligence will likely play a role in their case.
Gross negligence is worse than criminal negligence. The possible penalties for vehicular homicide with gross negligence include up to $5,000 in fines and ten years or less in prison. By contrast, vehicular homicide with criminal negligence typically results in three years or less of prison time upon conviction.
As you can see, there is nearly always one or more factors—such as negligence—that can worsen a criminal charge. Learning more about the charges against you can ensure that you take the wisest approach when creating a criminal defense in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.