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What can I expect when facing vehicular homicide charges?

An accident that in some way leads to a death is one of the most serious charges a person could face. This is a federal crime and is often referred to as vehicular homicide, OWI homicide or homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle.

A conviction for this type of homicide typically leads to a lengthy prison term and in many cases, additional penalties. Prosecutors tend to pursue a conviction aggressively in cases involving vehicular homicide, which means defendants need an equally aggressive criminal defense.

In Wisconsin, vehicular homicide charges mean the defendant is suspected of unintentionally causing another person’s death while operating a motor vehicle under the influence. Possible penalties if convicted include:

— Fines of up to $100,000 — Possible DUI surcharges — For a first offense, a prison term of up to 25 years — For a subsequent offense, a prison term of up to 40 years — Loss of driving privileges for up to 5 years — Mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device

Vehicular homicide does not mean only accidents caused by drunk drivers. A person under the influence of controlled substances like heroin, cocaine, pain medication and other drugs could also face vehicular homicide charges. Another key point is if a minor is present in the vehicle, it could mean additional penalties.

Vehicular homicide is a frightening thing to face, but it is possible to avoid the worst outcome in some cases as the burden of proof lies with the prosecution. However, without legal representation, defendants of vehicular homicide likely have a reduced chance of avoiding a conviction.

Source: Wisconsin State Legislature, “Homicide by intoxicated use of vehicle or firearm.,” accessed April. 07, 2015

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