Union County NJ Criminal Lawyers

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Death by Auto

Union County Death by Vehicular Homicide Defense Attorney

Death by auto refers to the offense that arises when a homicide is the result of reckless operation of a motor vehicle or vessel (e.g. boat). N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5 of the New Jersey Criminal Code is the law that sets forth this charge, bearing the title “Death by Vehicular Homicide”. An individual found guilty of this offense is exposed to a state prison term as high as twenty (20) years depending on the circumstances of the death by auto violation. Our firm, the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, defends first and second degree vehicular homicide charges in Union County NJ. Since this violation is always an indictable offense under NJ Law, these cases are only heard at the Superior Court in Elizabeth NJ, a venue our attorneys know all too well. We are former prosecutors who have been practicing in the area for decades and who have also happened to have handled countless vehicular homicide cases over the years. An attorney on our defense team can be reached 24/7 to assist you at 908-272-1700.

Basics Of The New Jersey Death By Auto Law

As previously stated, this violation is contained at N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5. This law provides that, where someone is killed as a result of the reckless operation of a car, truck, or boat, an individual may be charged with death by auto (a.k.a. death by vehicular homicide). New Jersey Law defines “recklessness” as the conscious disregard of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that is a gross deviation from the standard of care that would be exercised by a reasonable person in the same or similar situation.  In determining whether an individual’s operation is “reckless”, 2C:11-5 creates certain presumptions. There is a mandatory presumption that requires that recklessness be inferred if the death resulted while the accused was driving while intoxicated. If the operator was using a hand-held wireless telephone at the time of the fatal collision, a permissible inference may be drawn that he/she was operating recklessly. To prove this charge, the prosecutor must establish, beyond reasonable doubt, that the defendant: (1) was the operator of a motor vehicle or vessel; (2) operated recklessly; and (3) he/she conduct caused the death of another. If the prosecutor is able to sustain this burden and prove vehicular homicide, it results in a second degree crime. The only exception the second degree grading for death by auto is where the fatality results from DWI in a School Zone, in which case it is a first degree crime.

Penalties You Will Face If Convicted Of Vehicular Homicide

The penalties for a second degree death by auto charge are 5-10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. There is also a period of parole ineligibility, also referred to as a mandatory minimum, that must be imposed in cases involving DWI or driving with a suspended license. This provision requires that a minimum of three (3) years be served before there may be any consideration for parole if someone is killed by an operator who is driving while intoxicated or while his drivers license is revoked. This sentencing requirement is in addition to any parole ineligibility that must be imposed under the No Early Release Act (“NERA”).  If the death is the result of driving while intoxicated in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, the the court must also impose a drivers license suspension of at least five (5) years to life.

Skilled Death By Auto Defense Lawyers To Fight Your Case In Elizabeth NJ

The largest percentage of vehicular homicide cases involve alcohol related fatalities. These tend to be not only serious cases but also ones that require finesse. Our attorneys possess the skill set needed to effectively defend challenging cases like these. Call us for immediate assistance securing bail or to discuss our defense of a death by auto charge.


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(908) 272-1700
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Call 24/7 for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.