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Vehicular Homicide

A car accident that claims a life can take a severe and tragic toll on everyone involved — including you. When you’re accused of causing a fatal crash, you can face very serious criminal charges in Ohio. If you’re convicted of a vehicular manslaughter, vehicular homicide, or aggravated vehicular homicide charge, it may haunt you for the rest of your life.

Vehicular manslaughter, vehicular homicide, and aggravated vehicular homicide charges are felonies in Ohio. The penalties and consequences for a conviction can include:

  • A lengthy prison sentence
  • Costly criminal fines and court fees
  • Loss of your driver’s license — perhaps for life
  • Increased insurance rates for your car or other vehicles such as boats or private aircraft
  • A permanent felony record that can be a barrier to finding or keeping a job
  • An inability to obtain a professional license to work as a teacher, nurse, pharmacist, lawyer, doctor, or other licensed professional
  • Effects on your immigration status, including having your immigration visa or green card revoked, having your application for U.S. citizenship denied, or being deported to your home country

If you or a family member is facing vehicular manslaughter, vehicular homicide, or aggravated vehicular homicide charges in Ohio, you need the help of an experienced Ohio criminal defense lawyer. A good defense lawyer can be your voice in court to ensure that you are treated fairly, your rights are preserved, and you get the best outcome possible under the circumstances of your case.

How Vehicular Manslaughter and Homicide Charges Work in Ohio

If a fatal car crash in Ohio results in criminal charges, there are three different types of charge under Ohio Rev. Code 2903.06. How you’re charged will depend on the circumstances of the crash and whether you’re alleged to have caused the crash while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

  • Vehicular Manslaughter — You may be charged with vehicular manslaughter if you are suspected of causing the death of another person or an unborn child while committing a minor traffic misdemeanor.
  • Vehicular Homicide — You may be charged with vehicular homicide in Ohio if you are suspected of causing the death of another person or an unborn child when you operate a vehicle negligently or while speeding in a construction zone.
  • Aggravated Vehicular Homicide — You may be charged with aggravated vehicular homicide if you are suspected of causing the death of another person or an unborn child while operating a vehicle recklessly, while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or recklessly in a construction zone.

When you’re charged with one of these offenses, “vehicle” can have several definitions. It can mean a car, truck, or motorcycle. However, a “vehicle” also can mean a boat, train, snowmobile, or airplane. When you cause a fatality while operating any of these types of vehicles, you may be charged depending on the circumstances.

Penalties for a Vehicular Manslaughter Conviction

Vehicular manslaughter generally is a 2nd degree misdemeanor in Ohio. A conviction may be punished with:

  • Up to 90 days in jail
  • A fine of up to $750
  • A driver’s license suspension for 3 months to 2 years

Vehicular manslaughter is a 1st degree misdemeanor when you cause a fatality while your driver’s license is suspended or revoked, or you didn’t have a driver’s license. It also can be a 1st degree misdemeanor if you have a previous conviction for any kind of traffic-related death or assault. Vehicular manslaughter as a 1st degree misdemeanor is punishable by:

  • Up to 180 days in jail
  • A fine of up to $1,000
  • A driver’s license suspension for 3 months to 2 years on a first conviction
  • A driver’s license suspension for 1 to 5 years if you have any previous conviction for a traffic-related death or assault

Penalties for a Vehicular Homicide Conviction

In general, vehicular homicide is a 1st degree misdemeanor in Ohio. A conviction may be punished with:

  • Up to 180 days in jail
  • A fine of up to $1,000
  • A driver’s license suspension for 1 to 5 years

If your conviction is for causing a fatality while speeding in a construction zone, there is a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 15 days.

Vehicular homicide is a 4th degree felony when you commit the offense while driving without a license, or with a suspended license. It also is a 4th degree felony if you have any previous conviction for a traffic-related death or assault. A conviction may be punished with:

  • 6 to 18 months of incarceration
  • A fine of up to $5,000
  • A driver’s license suspension for 1 to 5 years for a first offense
  • A driver’s license suspension for 2 to 10 years if you have a previous conviction for a traffic-related homicide, manslaughter, or assault
  • A driver’s license suspension for 3 years to life if you have a previous conviction for a traffic-related murder, felonious assault, or attempted murder

Penalties for an Aggravated Vehicular Homicide Conviction

Aggravated vehicular homicide is a serious felony offense in Ohio. The degree of felony and the penalties for a conviction vary depending on the circumstances of the charge. Generally, they break down as follows:

3rd Degree Felony

Aggravated vehicular homicide is a 3rd degree felony in Ohio when you are suspected of causing the death of another person or causing a woman’s pregnancy to terminate by operating a vehicle in a way that is reckless. Aggravated vehicular homicide also is a 3rd degree felony when you are suspected of causing a fatality while operating a vehicle recklessly in a construction zone.

The penalty if you’re convicted may include:

  • 12 to 60 months in prison
  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • Suspension of your driver’s license for 3 years to life
  • Suspension of your driver’s license for life if you have a prior conviction for a traffic related murder, felonious assault, or attempted murder

2nd Degree Felony

Aggravated vehicular homicide is a 2nd degree felony in Ohio when you cause the death of another person or cause a woman’s pregnancy to terminate by operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The penalty if you’re convicted may include:

  • 2 to 8 years in prison
  • A fine of up to $15,000
  • Suspension of your driver’s license for life

1st Degree Felony

There are several circumstances under which an aggravated vehicular homicide charge can be a 1st degree felony in Ohio. Those include causing the death of another person or the termination of a woman’s pregnancy when you operate a vehicle under the influence, and one of the following additional circumstances exists:

  • You were driving with no driver’s license or a suspended driver’s license
  • You have a previous conviction for vehicular homicide
  • You have a previous conviction for any traffic-related death or assault

The penalty for a conviction may include:

  • 3 to 11 years in prison
  • A fine of up to $20,000
  • Suspension of your driver’s license for life

Your possible prison sentence for an aggravated vehicular homicide conviction increases to 10 to 15 years when:

  • You have three or more prior OVI / DUI convictions in the past 6 years for a motor vehicle, watercraft, or aircraft under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • You have three or more previous convictions vehicular assault in the last 6 years
  • You have two or more previous felony OVI / DUI convictions

Defending Your Cincinnati Vehicular Homicide Charge

Determining who is at fault for a car crash often can be unclear. Two different witnesses can watch the same accident happen, but see two different things and tell two different stories. That’s why cases involving car accidents often end up in civil court — because the drivers tell different stories about what happened, and a judge or jury is needed to sort through the facts and make a decision.

The situation is no different when it comes to criminal charges stemming from a fatal crash. It’s likely that the evidence and testimony in your case isn’t cut-and-dried. The police report that resulted in your charge may be based on an officer’s subjective interpretation of evidence that may be open to other interpretations. You also may have other options for fighting your charge.

A skilled Cincinnati traffic defense lawyer can discuss your options and explain what to expect from the court process. Your lawyer can get involved even before you’re charged. A good lawyer can represent you through the investigation process to make sure your rights are protected — and may be able to help you avoid charges altogether. If you are charged, a skilled traffic defense attorney may be able to get your charge dismissed or reduced, depending on the circumstances.

Facing criminal charges? Contact us today.

Criminal charges can be an overwhelming and frightening experience. You are probably worried about your freedoms and privileges being at stake and have a lot of questions. You can rest assured, because the Cincinnati Criminal Defense team is here for you. Get the justice that you deserve. Don’t hesitate to contact us today at or email us at advice@cincinnaticriminalattorney.com.
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