NRS 484C.130: Vehicular Homicide—What Nevada Law Says
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious offense that can lead to hefty fines, jail time, and license suspension. But multiple DUIs can be especially problematic, as they could lead to even more serious charges such as vehicular homicide.
In Nevada, NRS 484C.130 lays out the specifics of this particular crime, including its definition, elements of the crime, and penalties for conviction. In this article, we’ll cover some potential defenses against vehicular homicide charges in addition to possible alternatives to prison sentences. We’ll also answer some frequently asked questions about the topic.
If you have been charged with vehicular homicide in Nevada, it’s important to understand what your rights are and take steps accordingly. Hiring an experienced DUI lawyer like The Defenders is the best way to ensure your rights are protected and you get the representation you need. Vehicular homicide carries very heavy penalties that you don’t want to face alone.
Definition of Vehicular Homicide
Vehicular homicide is defined under NRS 484C.130 as when a person:
- Is driving under the influence (DUI)
- Causes the death of another while driving or in physical control of a vehicle
- Has three prior DUI convictions
For example, Sam is driving while under the influence of alcohol. He runs a red light and hits another car, killing the driver of that car. Because Sam has three prior DUI convictions in the last 20 years, this could be considered vehicular homicide in Nevada.
Elements of the Crime
In order for someone to be convicted of vehicular homicide in Nevada, prosecutors have to prove several elements beyond a reasonable doubt. These include:
- The accused was driving or in physical control of the vehicle
- While under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Caused the death of another person
- Has three prior DUI convictions in Nevada
It doesn’t matter whether those prior convictions were 5 or 10 years apart. That “lookback” period only applies to simple misdemeanor DUIs and whether they’ll be charged a felony DUI or not.
It also doesn’t matter if the defendant were showing signs of impaired driving. By legal definition, if the driver has a blood alcohol content of at least 0.08%, that qualifies as a DUI. And this applies to illegal levels of certain drugs too, including marijuana despite being legal in the state.
Penalties for Vehicular Homicide in Nevada
If convicted of vehicular homicide under NRS 484C.130, the penalties can be quite severe. In Nevada, this crime is considered a Category A felony and carries with it 25 years or life in prison with the possibility of parole after 10 years served. You’ll also face a 3-year license suspension.
Under Nevada Law, a category A felony is the most serious felony offense one can get. This is the same charge as murder, so the consequences are quite serious. With that, it’s important to note that vehicular homicide has harsher penalties than a DUI resulting in death, which is only a category B felony.
That said, according to NRS 484C.440, individuals convicted of vehicular homicide should be incarcerated in a minimum security facility so as to segregate them from offenders whose crimes were violent.
Lastly, judges will take into consideration other aggravating factors to determine the length of the prison sentence. For example, if the defendant was transporting a child under 15 at the time of the accident, the judge will impose a longer sentence.
Defenses to Vehicular Homicide Charges
If you’ve been charged with vehicular homicide in Nevada, there are several defenses that your criminal defense attorney may pursue on your behalf. Your DUI lawyer will use all the available evidence such as CCTV or dashcam videos, eyewitness testimony, police reports, blood tests and breath test results, and more to prove your innocence.
Below are the most common defenses used in vehicular homicide cases include:
Defendant Did Not Cause the Accident
In some cases, your lawyer may be able to prove that you were not responsible for the death of the other person. This could mean that another car or a defect in the road was actually responsible. It can also be possible that the pedestrian or cyclist was negligent in their own actions and contributed to the accident.
Not Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs
Your lawyer may be able to prove that you were not impaired by alcohol or drugs at the time of the accident. For example, if your blood test results indicate that there was no alcohol or drugs in your system then this could be used as a defense.
Did Not Have 3 Prior DUI Convictions
If you don’t have three prior DUI convictions, then your lawyer may be able to prove that you can’t be charged with vehicular homicide. This would depend on the specifics of your case and the evidence available so it is important to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
In some cases, your lawyer may be able to prove that the police failed to follow proper procedure during the investigation or when arresting you. This could include a failure to read your Miranda rights or administering the breathalyzer or field sobriety tests incorrectly. If this can be successfully argued in court, then the charges may be dropped or reduced.
Consequences of a Conviction for Vehicular Homicide in Nevada
A conviction for vehicular homicide in Nevada is a very serious matter and carries significant consequences. In addition to the prison sentence, you may also have to pay large fines as well as restitution to the victims and/or their families. You will also lose your driver’s license for at least three years and may be required to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle.
A conviction for vehicular homicide can have long-term effects on your life. You may find it difficult to get a job or rent an apartment as you will now have a criminal record.
Since vehicular homicide is a felony offense, records cannot be sealed. This stays on your record forever.
Alternatives to Prison Sentence Available Under NRS 484C.130
Unfortunately, vehicular homicide is not eligible to qualify for the Serious Offenders Program otherwise known as Felony DUI Court. The state of Nevada only offers this program to defendants facing their third-time DUI charge.
This is why it is important to work with an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can help you present a strong case in court and fight for the best outcome possible.
Steps You Should Take If Charged with Vehicle Homicide in Nevada
If you’ve been charged with vehicular homicide in Nevada, the first thing you should do is contact a qualified criminal defense attorney who has experience handling these types of cases. Your lawyer will be able to build a strong defense and represent your best interests in court.
The Defenders can provide you with an aggressive and experienced defense against vehicular homicide charges. Our team is well-versed in Nevada criminal and DUI laws. We can present a strong case on your behalf to protect your rights and prove your innocence. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is vehicular homicide?
Vehicular homicide is a crime that occurs when someone drives under the influence (DUI) and causes the death of another person while driving or in physical control of a vehicle with three prior DUI convictions.
What is the difference between vehicular homicide and vehicular manslaughter?
Vehicular homicide occurs when an individual causes a fatal accident while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and has three prior DUI convictions. It’s a category A felony and carries 25 years or life in prison. Vehicular manslaughter, on the other hand, occurs when an individual causes a fatal accident while not under the influence of alcohol or drugs and carries a lesser penalty. It’s considered a misdemeanor and carries up to 6 months in jail.
What are the penalties for vehicular homicide in Nevada?
The penalty for vehicular homicide in Nevada is 25 years or life in prison with the possibility of parole after 10 years served. You’ll also face a 3-year license suspension. The judge may impose longer sentences in cases where aggravating factors are present, such as transporting a child under 15 at the time of the accident.
Is vehicular homicide a felony in Nevada?
Yes. Vehicular homicide is considered a Category A felony which carries a possible sentence of 25 years or life with the possibility of parole after 10 years served.
Can I plead down vehicular homicide to a lesser charge?
Yes, depending on the circumstances of your case and the evidence presented by prosecutors, you may be able to plead down vehicular homicide. A qualified DUI lawyer can help you determine if this is a viable option in your case.
How long does a vehicular homicide conviction stay on your record in Nevada?
A vehicular homicide conviction will remain on your record for life in Nevada. Like other felony offenses, it cannot be expunged or sealed.
What should I do if I’m charged with vehicular homicide?
If you’re facing charges for vehicular homicide, it’s important to seek experienced legal counsel right away. An experienced DUI lawyer can help you build a defense and fight for the best possible outcome. You should also remember that even if you are found not guilty, you may still face civil penalties stemming from the accident, so it is in your best interest to consult an attorney about these matters as well.
What are some defenses against vehicular homicide charges?
There are some potential defenses that could be used depending on the specific circumstances of your case. These include arguing that you were not under the influence at the time, demonstrating that another person was actually driving, or showing that you did not cause the accident. An experienced DUI lawyer can help you determine which defense is best for your case and provide legal guidance.