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New York Criminal Defense Blog

What differentiates vehicular assault from homicide?

New York residents who end up involved in a deadly crash may face one of two charges: vehicular manslaughter, or vehicular homicide. Though these charges may sound the same initially, they are for different crimes and carry different penalties if you are convicted.

As Cornell Law School defines, vehicular homicide is considered the killing of a human being by the reckless operation of another vehicle. Generally speaking, it is easier to prove vehicular homicide over vehicular manslaughter because less proof of criminal intent is needed. However, vehicular homicide is still considered a second degree felony in many states, which carries a large prison sentence, a huge fine, and community service hours. First degree offenses are even more intensive and can include up to 30 years in jail.

Vehicular manslaughter: You need to get a strong defense

Vehicular manslaughter is an interesting charge, because it can be used against those who are negligent or who had criminal intentions. The individual may or may not have been intoxicated at the time of a crash.

With any vehicular manslaughter case, there are a number of penalties that can be used against those who killed someone with their vehicle. Penalties may be as little as fines and minor jail time for involuntary manslaughter, while criminal cases may land people in prison for life. It all depends on the situation and what led to the victim's death.

Rebuilding your life with a new job after a conviction

For people in New York who have been convicted of criminal offenses, the thought of getting back into life in a positive way can be exciting and terrifying. One of the most important ways that a person can get their life back on a good track is to get a job that allows them to properly take care of themselves and their family. With so many employers conducting background checks before offering a person a job, one might wonder how to get a job with a criminal conviction on their record.

According to Monster.com, many employers today are more than willing to consider people with criminal records for new jobs. A survey by the Charles Koch Institute and the Society for Human Resources Management found that two out of three people in HR roles and eight out of 10 hiring managers believed that a candidate with a criminal record has just as good of a chance of being a great employee as does their counterpart with no criminal record.

What is the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine?

If you have never heard of the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine, but find yourself facing criminal charges in New York, you should educate yourself about this important legal doctrine that could play an important part in the defense you and your attorney mount.

LawTeacher.net explains that the U.S. Supreme Court established the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine in Nardone v. United States, a 1939 case for which Justice Felix Frankfurtur wrote the majority opinion.

New law adjusts sentences for domestic violence survivors

New York is being hailed as a progressive leader in justice system reform with the recent signing of the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act. According to MEAWW, the law considers the abuse history of someone who is accused of committing a crime against their abuser. It allows judges to consider the history of abuse to provide more lenient sentences to the accused.

There are still strict sentencing guidelines and many judges may use the history to offer alternative to incarceration programs or shorter sentences. In the past, any crime committed was treated separately from who it was committed against. This means that a domestic violence victim who hurt or killed their abuser would still be charged with a harsh crime even though they were being abused. Judges could not formerly use the history of abuse when determining sentences.

What are terroristic threats?

The perception amongst many in New York is that violent crimes are limited to those that involve actual physical confrontations between individuals. In reality, a violent crime can be one where no action was taken, yet great fear and intimidation was inferred. You are probably familiar with the age-old saying of "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." In the eyes of the law, that statement is most definitely untrue. 

Per Section 490.20 of New York's Penal Code, you can be prosecuted for making terroristic threats. These are threats intended to cause the reasonable fear or expectation that terrorist actions are imminent. In the context of this law, terrorist actions are defined as: 

  • Intimidating or coercing a civilian population
  • Influencing the policy of a unit of government by intimidation or coercion
  • Affecting the action of a unit of government by murder, assassination or kidnapping

Fatal drunk driving crashes can lead to criminal charges

Any adult who is going to head out to an event with alcohol should make sure that they plan for getting home. Trying to make it home after a few drinks can be a dangerous proposition, not only because of the risk of criminal charges if you are stopped by the police, but due to the chance of being involved in an accident.

Many people don't realize what a large problem drunk driving is. There is gruesome news when it comes to the number of people who die in alcohol-related crashes. This number has decreased by around 48 percent since 1982. When you consider only people under 21, the number of drunk driving fatalities has decreased by around 80 percent.

What is mens rea?

If you are facing criminal charges related to violent crime in New York, the judge and jury will take not only the facts of your case into consideration but also your state of mind as you allegedly performed the acts resulting in the charges. Intentional actions to harm someone else can result in more serious penalties, so the prosecution will be attempting to prove that you had a motive for allegedly acting in a way that could cause harm to one or more others. At the same time, you and your attorney will likely try to cast doubt upon the intent behind your actions. According to FindLaw, the legal term for one's state of mind while allegedly committing a crime is mens rea, which translates from Latin to "guilty mind." 

The question of mens rea comes down to whether you intended to break the law and/or behave in a way that would cause harm to others. For example, if you injure or kill someone as a result of a motor vehicle accident but made attempts to avoid the collision, you are unlikely to face criminal charges, although you may be liable for monetary damages in civil court. It would, however, be a different matter if you actively sought out an individual to hit with your car and accelerated to hit him or her with the most force possible.

What is the difference between federal and state courts?

For those who have been accused of committing a crime in New York, it is important to understand if the charge is a state or a federal one. The differences can affect the jurisdiction, the outcome and the length of a sentence. It may also make a difference on the record of the accused.

According to FindLaw, local and state courts are established by the state they are in. In states, there may also be courts established by counties, cities and other municipalities. The United States Constitution established federal courts and they are used to settle disputes between laws passed by Congress and the Constitution.

Vehicular assault charges in alleged New York hit and run

So far in 2019, motor vehicles have caused the deaths of 21 pedestrians in New York City, which is more than the number of pedestrian fatalities caused by car accidents that had occurred by this time last year. One of the most recent of these fatal collisions occurred last Friday evening on Amsterdam Avenue in Harlem, where a hit-and-run driver allegedly crashed into a 26-year-old woman, who later died at the hospital. The driver, a 27-year-old man, now faces charges including operating a motor vehicle impaired by drugs, failure to report an accident, aggravated operation of a motor vehicle, vehicular manslaughter, driving without a license and vehicular assault. 

Witnesses to the accident inside a nearby restaurant report hearing no sound of screeching tires that would have indicated that the driver tried to stop the vehicle or avoid the accident, reporting that only lights from the vehicle drew their attention to the scene where they saw the pedestrian lying on the ground following the collision. Allegedly, the driver was traveling south on Amsterdam Avenue at a high rate of speed as the pedestrian stepped off the curb at the intersection with West 141st Street. Reports indicate that the vehicle then struck her, pinning her between the vehicle and a nearby parked car, then sped off again. The driver allegedly then crashed into an SUV waiting at a stoplight after turning onto Hamilton Place. Authorities arrested him shortly thereafter. He had sustained injuries that required hospitalization, but it is unknown which collision, or both, caused his injuries, nor is it known whether he is still in the hospital or what his current condition may be. 

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