Under New York Law, Aggravated and Vehicular Manslaughter charges are pursued by state prosecutors in stations where the death of another person is used by the means of a motor vehicle. There are three different Aggravated and Vehicular Manslaughter charges. Specifically, these charges are:

New York Aggravated Vehicular Homicide is the most serious of these charges, and New York Vehicular Manslaughter in the Second Degree is the least serious. Nonetheless, all of these charges are felonies and can result in significant jail time. The difference in these charges is explained in greater detail below.

New York Vehicular Manslaughter in the Second Degree

New York Vehicular Manslaughter in the Second Degree is codified in New York Penal Law Section 125.12. Under New York Penal Law Section 125.12, a person is guilty of Vehicular Manslaughter in the Second Degree when he or she causes the death of another person, AND:

  1. Operates a motor vehicle in violation of Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1192.2(2), 1192.2(3), 1192.2(4), 1192.2(4-a) OR operates a vessel or public vessel in violation of Section 49-a of the Navigation AND as a result of such intoxication or impairment by the use of a drug, or by the combined influence of drugs or of alcohol and any drug or drugs, operates such motor vehicle, vessel or public vessel in a manner that causes the death of such other person, OR
  2. Operates a motor vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 18,000 pounds which contains flammable gas, radioactive materials or explosives in violation of Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1192.1 and such flammable gas, radioactive materials or explosives is the cause of such death, and as a result of such impairment by the use of alcohol, operates such motor vehicle in a manner that causes the death of such other person, OR
  3. Operates a snowmobile in violation of paragraph (b), (c) or (d) of subdivision one of section 25.24 of the Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Law OR operates an all terrain vehicle in violation of Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1192(2), 1192(3), 1192(4), 1192(4-a) AND as a result of such intoxication or impairment by the use of a drug, or by the combined influence of drugs or of alcohol and any drug or drugs, operates such snowmobile or all terrain vehicle in a manner that causes the death of such other person.

Legal Presumption Applicable to New York Vehicular Manslaughter Charges

Importantly, there is a legal presumption that is applicable to New York Vehicular Manslaughter charges. The presumption is that if it is established,isked that a person was operating the motor vehicle, vessel or ATV while unlawfully intoxicated or impaired by alcohol or drug, then the person operated the vehicle in a manner that caused such death. Importantly, this presumption is rebuttable. That means that the defense is able to present evidence to overcome that legal presumption.

Sentencing and Penalties for New York Vehicular Manslaughter in the Second Degree

New York Vehicular Manslaughter in the Second Degree is a Class “D” Non-Violent Felony. As such, this particular charge is punishable by:

  • An indeterminate sentence up to 2 1/3 to 7 years probation,
  • Determinate sentence of 1 year,
  • Split sentence (up to 6 months jail, rest of the time on probation),
  • Probation (only in circumstances where the court finds mitigating circumstances).

New York Vehicular Manslaughter in the First Degree

New York Vehicular Manslaughter in the First Degree is codified in Penal Law Section 125.13. Under New York Penal Law Section 125.13, a person is guilty of Vehicular Manslaughter in the First Degree when:

  1. He or she commits the crime of Vehicular Manslaughter in the Second Degree, AND
  2. There is an additional aggravating element.

These additional aggravating elements which elevate Manslaughter in the Second Degree to Manslaughter in the First Degree are:

  1. Commits the crime while operating a motor vehicle with .18 blood alcohol content, OR
  2. Commits the crime while knowing or having reason to know that his or her license is suspended or received and such revocation or suspension is based on a conviction in this state or any other state which would constitute a violation of Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1192, OR based on a refusal to submit to a test designed to measure the blood alcohol content, OR
  3. Has a previous conviction for violating any of the provisions of Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1192, OR out of state conduct that is equivalent to the New York charge, OR
  4. Causes the death of more than one person, OR
  5. Has previously been convicted of Vehicular Manslaughter in the First or Second Degree, or Aggravated Vehicular Manslaughter or an out of state charge that would constitute such crimes, OR
  6. Commits this crime while operating a motor vehicle while a child who is 15 years of age or less is a passenger in a motor vehicle and causes the death of such child.

Legal Presumption Applicable to Vehicular Manslaughter in the First Degree

Similarly to New York Vehicular Manslaughter, this charge has a rebuttable legal presumption. That is, if it is established that the person operating a motor vehicle caused a death or deaths while intoxicated or impaired by drugs or alcohol, or a combination of both, it is presumed that that such person operated a motor vehicle in a way that caused death or deaths. This presumption is rebuttable. That means that the defense is able to present evidence to overcome it.

Sentencing and Penalties for Vehicular Manslaughter in the First Degree

Under New York Law, Vehicular Manslaughter in the First Degree is a Class “C” Felony. As such, this charge is punishable by:

  • A maximum indeterminate sentence up to 5 to 15 years in prison,
  • A minimum indeterminate sentence up to 1 to 3 years in prison.

Aggravated Vehicular Homicide

The most serious of vehicular charges is the Aggravated Vehicular Homicide. This charge is codified in New York Penal Law Section 125.14. Under Penal Law Section 125.14, a person is guilty of Aggravated Vehicular Homicide when he/she:

  1. Engages in reckless driving as defined in Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1212, AND
  2. Commits the Crime of Vehicular Manslaughter in the Second Degree, AND
  3. One of the following aggravating elements is present.

One of the following elements is required to escalate Vehicular Manslaughter in the Second Degree to Aggravated Vehicular Homicide:

  1. Commits the crime while operating a motor vehicle with .18 blood alcohol content, OR
  2. Commits the crime while knowing or having reason to know that his or her license is suspended or received and such revocation or suspension is based on a conviction in this state or any other state which would constitute a violation of Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1192, OR based on a refusal to submit to a test designed to measure the blood alcohol content, OR
  3. Has a previous conviction for violating any of the provisions of Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1192, OR out of state conduct that is equivalent to the New York charge, OR
  4. Causes the death of more than one person, OR
  5. Has previously been convicted of Vehicular Manslaughter in the First or Second Degree, or Aggravated Vehicular Manslaughter or an out of state charge that would constitute such crimes, OR
  6. Commits this crime while operating a motor vehicle while a child who is 15 years of age or less is a passenger in a motor vehicle and causes the death of such child.

These elements are also present in New York Manslaughter in the First Degree charge. However, the difference is that the Aggravated Vehicular Homicide charge also requires that you commit reckless driving in violation of Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1212.

Sentencing and Penalties for New York Aggravated Vehicular Homicide

Under New York Law, Aggravated Vehicular Homicide is a Class “B” Non-Violent Felony. As such, this charge is punishable by:

  • A maximum indeterminate sentence of 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison,
  • A minimum indeterminate sentence of 1 to 3 years in prison.

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