Understand the requirements of California’s most serious vehicular manslaughter charge.
California gross vehicular manslaughter is charged in situations where the defendant drives in a highly reckless manner that causes the death of another person. When this charge involves an allegation that the defendant was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it becomes the most serious DUI-related offense with the exception of DUI murder cases.
To prove the defendant is guilty of California gross vehicular manslaughter, the prosecutor must show:
- the defendant committed an unlawful act consisting of a misdemeanor, traffic infraction, or otherwise lawful act in a way that might cause death;
- the defendant committed the unlawful act with gross negligence; and
- the defendant’s act of gross negligence conduct caused the death of another person.
Negligence means that someone acts, or fails to act, with the care and caution a reasonable person would have used in a similar situation.
Gross negligence requires an act so reckless that:
- it creates a high risk of death or great bodily injury; and
- a reasonable person would have known that acting in that way would create such a risk.