If you have been charged with vehicular homicide in Colorado while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the consequences can be severe. You should not take this charge lightly, as a conviction could result in over a decade in prison. Securing legal representation from an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Colorado is critical.
At the law offices of Christian A. Schwaner, we know the challenges faced by those who face vehicular homicide charges. We can help walk you through the process of fighting back against a charge and give you the best chance of avoiding a conviction. If the evidence against you is overwhelming, we will work to negotiate a favorable plea deal on your behalf.
Penalties for a Fatal DUI Accident
There are two forms of vehicular homicide under Colorado § 18-3-106 CRS. The more mild charge is for a death caused by the reckless driving of another party. A person charged with vehicular homicide related to reckless driving is facing a Class Four felony. The potential consequences include:
- Two to six years in prison
- Mandatory parole for an additional three years
- A fine ranging from $2,000 up to $500,000
However, if the vehicular homicide charge you face is related to a death caused by DUI rather than reckless driving, the penalties can increase significantly. In Colorado, a fatal accident related to a DUI is a Class Three felony. The potential consequences include:
- Four to twelve years in prison
- Mandatory parole for an additional five years
- A fine ranging from $3.000 up to $750,000
How a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help You After an Arrest
If you have been arrested in a fatal DUI accident in Colorado, hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney is essential. After an arrest, police will question you about the accident. Having a lawyer present will help ensure you don’t say anything that could harm your defense. Your lawyer will be with you through every step of the process, ensuring your rights are protected.
Your attorney will run their own investigation into your accident and work to build a strong case on your behalf. It is important to remember that the burden of proof in criminal cases is high and lies with the prosecution. Your lawyer will work to prove your innocence or, barring that, introduce enough doubt into the case that a jury will not be able to convict.
If there is overwhelming evidence against you, your lawyer will negotiate with the prosecution to attempt to come to terms with a favorable plea deal that will minimize the consequences you will face.
How does Plea Bargaining Work?
A plea bargain is a deal struck between the prosecution and the defense where the defendant agrees to plead guilty to a charge in exchange for concessions from the prosecutor. These concessions could mean the dropping of additional charges, decreasing the severity of the charge, or offering a reduced sentence.
Plea bargaining can significantly decrease the length of a case, which will be favorable to you as the prosecutor will be eager to get the win quickly and move on. Because of this, you can likely negotiate a plea deal even if the evidence against you is overwhelming. However, the terms being offered may not be in your best interest.
Your criminal defense attorney will ensure you fully understand the terms of the plea deal and advise you on whether to take the offer or take your chances at trial.
Defenses You Can Use to Fight a Fatal DUI Charge
There are a variety of defenses that can be used against a vehicular homicide charge involving a DUI. However, the specifics of your case will dictate which approach will work best for you. Your experienced Colorado fatal DUI accident attorney will evaluate your case and determine the right defense to use.
Some of the most common defenses against a fatal DUI accident charge include:
- You were not driving
- You were not under the influence
- The arresting officer did not inform you of your rights
- Your rights were violated by the police
You Were Not Driving
Arguing that you were not driving at the time of the accident is a very simple argument that can be incredibly effective. While not applicable in all cases, your lawyer can build a strong defense based on this if police found you at the scene but you were not behind the wheel. If a witness backs up your argument of not being behind the wheel, your case will be even stronger.
However, with no witnesses to the accident, it will be a challenge for the prosecutor to meet the burden of proof to convict.
You Were Not Under the Influence
Arguing that you were not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident can also be an effective defense. If you were tested and your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was .08% or higher, it will help the prosecutor’s case. However, unlike with a DUI that doesn’t result in death or injury, an elevated BAC alone does not prove that you were under the influence.
In addition to a high BAC, the prosecution will need to show that you were unable to drive safely. If your BAC is below the legal limit proving that you meet the standard for vehicular homicide caused by DUI is going to be an incredible challenge for the prosecutor.
Additionally, your lawyer may be able to create doubt surrounding the validity of any chemical test you underwent after the accident. Errors in these tests are common, and an experienced DUI lawyer will know exactly what to look for and how to explain the results to a jury.
The Arresting Officer did Not Inform You of Your Rights
When the police arrest you for a crime, they must read you your rights. If they fail to take this step, your arrest may not be legal. In this case, any evidence discovered as a result of your arrest would be inadmissible.
Your Rights Were Violated by the Police
In their attempt to get the evidence they need, police may end up cutting corners or impeding your rights in a variety of ways. If you can prove that your rights were violated by police, there is a strong chance that you could get the charges against you dropped without even going to trial.
Make Sure to Secure Legal Representation Before You Say Anything to the Police
Speaking with the police before speaking to a lawyer is going to greatly decrease your chances of beating a fatal DUI accident charge. Contact Christian A. Schwaner today for a free initial consultation.