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Problems and Charging Choices in Prosecuting Vehicular Fatalities

NCJ Number
Prosecutor Volume: 31 Issue: 1 Dated: January/February 1997 Pages: 32-37
J J Dietrich
Date Published
6 pages
This article provides a basis for prosecutors to build a successful prosecution of vehicular fatality cases.
Before the enactment of vehicular homicide statutes, prosecutors sought convictions for vehicular fatalities under traditional homicide statutes (murder, manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide). However, since the enactment of vehicular homicide statutes, many prosecutors have come to depend on these easier-to-prove statutes rather than risk an acquittal under traditional homicide statutes. This is true even when traditional homicide statutes provide better penalty choices given the nature of the evidence and the sentence sought. In an effort to educate all who play a part in the prosecution of vehicular fatality cases, the article reviews: the law of criminal homicide, traditional homicide statutes and impairment, vehicular homicide statutes, practical considerations of criminal homicide, and assessing the degree of risk and the defendant's mental state. Notes