Penalties for Vehicular Homicide and Involuntary Manslaughter Charges
Interviewer: What possible penalties do these charges entail?
Paul Cramm: If someone is convicted of misdemeanor vehicular homicide, that’s a Class A misdemeanor in the state of Kansas. The maximum penalty for that Class A misdemeanor would be 12 months of custody and they would serve that custody in the county jail, in the jurisdiction where the accident occurred.
If someone is convicted of the more serious involuntary manslaughter charge, that’s a severity Level V felony offense. The sentencing range is anywhere from 31 months to 136 months in prison. We can think of that as two and half years to about 11 years in prison and that would depend on the person’s criminal history.
If you are convicted of involuntary manslaughter felony, you would not serve your time in the county jail where the accident occurred. You would serve your time in the Kansas Department of Corrections and Prison. There is a significant difference in sentencing risk between those two charges.
Interviewer: As far as county jail time, what could be the possible amount of time for that?
Paul Cramm: Maximum amount of time in the county jail for the misdemeanor is 12 months.
Do Minor Drivers involved in Vehicular-Related Charges Face Different Penalties?
Interviewer: If any of the individuals involved in such case were minors, would that case be handled differently?
Paul Cramm: Absolutely, if the driver who is accused of causing the accident is under the age of 18, by statute the case would be charged in the juvenile court. There is a possibility, maybe a probability that the driver would face a motion by the state to wave or elevate that person to adult status for purposes of prosecution.
The State May Petition to Try the Case in Adult, as Opposed to Juvenile Court
But in order to prosecute that juvenile driver as an adult, they would need to get an order from the court authorizing prosecution as an adult. Whether or not that young driver would face adult felony charges or adult criminal charges would depend on several factors. These include their age at the time of accident, whether or not they had prior charges and adjudications at the juvenile level and other factors that court would consider.
But certainly, if the person is under 18 the time of the accident occurs, we would begin the case in juvenile court and probably waiver to adult status would be one of the first issues the court would address.
The Kansas DUI Statute Provides for Greater Penalties If a Driver under the Influence Has a Minor Passenger in the Vehicle
Interviewer: Now, what if the victim was a minor, with that would the case also be handled differently?
Paul Cramm: If we’re talking about the victim being a decedent, if someone has lost their life, it would not change anything about the prosecution for an adult driver charged with causing that accident. There are some elements of the statute, for instance, our DUI statute provides a greater penalty for someone who is found to be driving under the influence if they have a passenger or occupant in the car who is a minor.
But those types of laws or enhancements do not apply to our vehicular homicide or involuntary manslaughter charges.
Will Your Driver’s License Be Suspended for a Vehicle Manslaughter Conviction?
Interviewer: If I received a misdemeanor for vehicular manslaughter, would my license be suspended or revoked?
Paul Cramm: Unless there is an allegation that you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs at that time, I don’t think it is an automatic result that the license would be suspended or revoked. However, that offense would satisfy as a more serious driving infraction.
Interviewer: If it were to happen where my license was revoked, would I have to attend a DMV hearing?
In Kansas, DMV Hearings about Possible License Suspensions Are Required in Cases That Involve Drugs or Alcohol
Paul Cramm: Most of the hearings with our Department of Revenue only have to do with whether or not the driver is accused of violating the implied consent law. If there is any sort of suspicion that drugs or alcohol were involved in the case, you may have a driver’s license hearing if you have refused chemical testing.
You will also have a hearing if you have failed chemical testing by providing a sample of breath or blood that is in the excess of the statutory limitation of alcohol. But, we would not have a driver’s license hearing in a case that did not involve drugs or alcohol.
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