Vehicular Homicide

Vehicular homicide is a reckless killing by operation of a vehicle. “Vehicles” include motorcycles, boats and airplanes, some four-wheelers and electric bicycles. (Click to read the statute.)

The death must be proximately caused by the defendant’s conduct.  “Proximate” means “near.”  Causation is the subject of hundreds of appellate cases in Tennessee and often is not clear-cut.

The prosecution will provide an accident report prepared by law enforcement.  The report includes witness statements, GPS measurements and photographic evidence. A criminal defense attorney will need to visit the scene, interview the witnesses, and sometimes hire an independent accident reconstruction expert.  Accident reconstruction testimony requires an expert.  The qualifications of law enforcement officer preparing the original report may be suspect and vulnerable to objection on evidentiary grounds.

Conduct creating a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury could be drag racing, crossing the yellow line, speeding or just talking on a cell phone.  Whether the conduct creates a substantial risk of serious bodily injury is a question for the jury. 

If the defendant’s intoxication is the proximate cause of death, the crime is a B felony punishable by a 8 to 12 years in prison.  Under Tennessee’s new Truth In Sentencing Act there is no possibility of probation or parole.

Otherwise, a conviction is a C felony punishable by 3-6 years in prison. Again, there is no possibility of probation or parole.

Aggravated Vehicular Homicide:

(Click to read the statute.)

Aggravated vehicular homicide a Class A felony punishable by 15-25 years in prison for a Standard Range I offender. Under the Truth In Sentencing Act that means at minimum, someone convicted of this statute will spend every day of 15 years locked up.

Conviction under this statute (aggravated vehicular homicide) requires a 2 prior conviction for DUI or vehicular assault.

predicate convictions for 2 prior DUIs or;

Proof that at the time of present offense, the defendant had a blood alcohol concentration of (0.20%) and a prior DUI or vehicular assault conviction.

The criminal defense lawyer will have to have the blood specimen tested by an  independent lab.  Due to specimen degradation, this should  be done early in the trial preparation.