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What is vehicular homicide?

If New Jersey charges you with committing vehicular homicide, you face serious charges indeed. As FindLaw explains, if convicted of this death by auto crime, you could face up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $200,000 and possibly a lifetime suspension of your driver’s license.

To convict you of vehicular homicide, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you drove recklessly or that you consciously disregarded the substantial and unjustifiable risk that your actions could result in someone’s death. In other words, your actions grossly deviated from the way in which a reasonable person would act while driving.

Ordinary care

In New Jersey, you must exercise ordinary care whenever you get behind the wheel. This means you must not drive under the following conditions:

  • When intoxicated
  • When under the influence of drugs
  • When distracted, such as by using your cellphone
  • When deprived of sleep

Vehicular homicide penalties

In New Jersey, vehicular homicide is a second-degree felony. If convicted, you face a minimum of five years in prison, a $150,000 fine and a five-year suspension of your driver’s license. The penalties are higher if you killed someone in a school zone, including a school crossing or on any property that a school uses. It makes no difference whether or not you knew you were in a school zone. Nor does it make any difference whether or not children were in the crosswalk or the school was closed.

Vehicular homicide in a school zone is a first-class felony carrying a prison term, if convicted, of 10-20 years. Be aware that for any type of vehicular homicide conviction, you must serve at least 85 percent of your prison term before you are eligible for parole. This is general information only and not intended to provide legal advice.

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