Manslaughter and Homicide by Motor Vehicle

Homicide by Motor Vehicle falls into two categories: felony homicide by motor vehicle and misdemeanor homicide by motor vehicle. The prosecution has the same burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt in both case types. However, in misdemeanor homicide by motor vehicle, the prosecution does not have to prove the defendant operated under the influence.

At the Russell Defense Firm, I provide clients with aggressive and effective legal advocacy with the goal of achieving the best possible case outcome.

I have been able to achieve many favorable verdicts in difficult vehicle-related charges, and I will review your situation and advise you. Retaining an experienced OUI attorney may mean the difference between facing heavy penalties and walking away, free from consequences.

Charges for Vehicular Homicide

In 1982 the Massachusetts Legislature divided G.L. c. 90, Section 24G into 2 separate subsections: misdemeanor vehicular homicide (G.L. c. 90, Section 24G[b]) caused either by operation under the influence, or reckless operation, or negligent operation, and felony vehicular homicide (G.L. c. 90, Section 24G[a]), caused by operation under the influence coupled with either reckless or negligent operation.

The District Court has final jurisdiction over both the misdemeanor and felony forms of vehicular homicide. G.L. c. 218, Section 26. The complaint must be scrutinized in advance so that the instruction may be appropriately tailored. The jury must be satisfied that the defendant's negligence was the efficient cause or the cause that necessarily set in operation all of the facts which ultimately caused the death...It would NOT be sufficient to convict...if the jurors were to find that the defendant's negligence was only a link, no matter how remote, in the chain of events...leading to [the] death." This definition of proximate cause in homicide cases "entail[s] a closer relationship between the result and the intended conduct than proximate causation in tort law." Commonwealth v. Diaz, 19 Mass. App. Ct. 29(1984).

What the Prosecution Has to Prove

In order to convict an individual of motor vehicle homicide, the prosecution must demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did the following:

  • was fully operating the motor vehicle
  • the motor vehicle was being operated on a public roadway
  • the death was in fact caused by the motor vehicle.

It must also be fully proven that the accused driver was either OUI or operating the motor vehicle in a reckless and negligent manner that endangered the lives of others.

Contact Russell Defense Firm for a Free Case Evaluation

It is in your best interests to speak with an attorney from my firm on an immediate basis as the penalties imposed could be life-changing. I understand that this is a highly emotional and stressful situation for you, and I will take steps to fight to preserve your freedom so that you can move forward from this terrible situation. Call now.

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