Vehicular Manslaughter in North Carolina

North Carolina, like other states in the United States, may have different laws about different sorts of crimes. In this case, the term “homicide,” “manslaughter” and “murder” may be interchanged. However, they are vastly different.

Homicide is the term used in the legal field to refer to any killing of a person by another person. However, it is not always a crime as ‘justifiable’ homicides exist. These happen if, for example, a person commits a killing by self-defense. However, unlawful homicides can be divided either by murder or manslaughter.

In this case, manslaughter is a third-degree murder. It is a killing that does not contain malice of forethought. This is why manslaughter sentences are lighter than murder sentences. However, one may be surprised to know that vehicular manslaughter actually exists in North Carolina.

This is the legal term used to refer to drivers that cause accidents that resulted in the deaths of passengers of his or her car, of another car, or pedestrians. These happen accidentally, as this may be caused by a multitude of reasons. However, vehicular manslaughter charges are deemed appropriate if the driver was not totally in control of his or her actions.

Vehicular manslaughter may not be that old in other states like North Carolina. Drivers who have done this were often charged with manslaughter, as described above. However, juries opted to use “vehicular manslaughter” instead of simply “manslaughter.” These happen with a variety of causes:

  • Negligent driving that have caused the deaths of others can support a vehicular manslaughter charge. This is described as the inattention, or driving without care, that a careful person would otherwise exercise in a given situation.
  • “Criminal negligence,” also called “culpable or gross negligence,” and “reckless disregard of others’ safety” is a type of driving that is necessary to support a charge of vehicular manslaughter. These are common benchmarks that are used to describe someone with a high blood alcohol level and failed to follow warnings.
  • Driving while intoxicated is often one of the causes of road accidents that lead to vehicular manslaughter charges. This is proven if a driver was indeed intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This can be proved by an eyewitness, self-incriminating statements, and even chemical evidence such as tests.
  • Violation of statutes may also be used to support vehicular manslaughter charges. Other states have specific vehicle statutes that must be followed by drivers. Examples include “No Passing” signs, or driving beyond the speed limit. Lastly,
  • Driving while falling asleep or while sleepy is also able to support vehicular manslaughter charges. When a killing happens during these situations, the driver may not necessarily incur manslaughter charges. However, the question is whether the driver acted negligently – as in, if a driver has voluntarily put himself in a scenario that would make him fall asleep while driving.

Those who would like to know more about the specifics of crimes in North Carolina may contact criminal lawyers and legal experts from nearby courts for consultations.