Serving the Elizabeth NJ Superior Court & All Municipal Courts in Union County

Union County NJ Criminal Defense Lawyers

Over 100 Year of Combined Experience

Former County & Municipal Prosecutors




Death by Auto – Vehicular Homicide

Plainfield NJ Vehicular Homicide Lawyer

Death by auto refers to the offense that arises when a homicide is the result of reckless operation of a motor vehicle or vessel (a.k.a. vehicular homicide). N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5 of the New Jersey Criminal Code is the law that sets forth this charge and it stands to reason that you or someone you know was charged with vehicular homicide somewhere in Union County given your research. The biggest fact you need to know is that the offense is extremely serious and exposes you to a state prison term that can reach twenty (20) years depending on the circumstances surrounding the car, truck, motorcycle, boat or other form of vehicular accident. Our firm, The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, defends charges filed anywhere in the region including Plainfield, e, Westfield, Union Township and Linden. The criminal attorneys on our staff include former prosecutors and other savvy counselors who have been defending offenses at the county courthouse in Elizabeth for decades. It also helps that we have some the most highly trained DWI attorneys in the state on our defense team. To speak to a lawyer in our Union NJ Office immediately, call 908-272-1700 for a free consultation.

Basics Of The New Jersey Death by Auto or Vessel Law

As previously stated, this violation is contained at N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5. This law provides that, where someone is killed as a result of the reckless operation of a car, truck, or boat, an individual may be charged with death by auto (a.k.a. death by vehicular homicide). New Jersey Law defines “recklessness” as the conscious disregard of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that is a gross deviation from the standard of care that would be exercised by a reasonable person in the same or similar situation.  In determining whether an individual’s operation is “reckless”, 2C:11-5 creates certain presumptions. There is a mandatory presumption that requires that recklessness be inferred if the death resulted while the accused was driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence of drugs. If the operator was using a hand-held wireless telephone at the time of the fatal collision, a permissible inference may be drawn that he/she was operating recklessly. To prove this charge, the prosecutor must establish, beyond reasonable doubt, that the defendant: (1) was the operator of a motor vehicle or vessel; (2) operated recklessly; and (3) he/she conduct caused the death of another. If the prosecutor is able to sustain this burden and prove vehicular homicide, it results in a second degree crime. The only exception the second degree grading for death by auto is where the fatality results from DWI in a School Zone, in which case it is a first degree crime.

Penalties You Will Face If Convicted Of Vehicular Homicide

The penalties for a second degree death by auto charge are 5-10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. There is also a period of parole ineligibility, also referred to as a mandatory minimum, that must be imposed in cases involving DWI or driving with a suspended license. This provision requires that a minimum of three (3) years be served before there may be any consideration for parole if someone is killed by an operator who is driving while intoxicated or while his drivers license is revoked. This sentencing requirement is in addition to any parole ineligibility that must be imposed under the No Early Release Act (“NERA”).  If the death is the result of driving while intoxicated in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, the court must also impose a drivers license suspension of at least five (5) years to life.

Westfield NJ Vehicular Homicide Attorney

The largest percentage of vehicular homicide cases involve alcohol related fatalities. These tend to be not only serious cases but also ones that require finesse given the involvement of the press and loved ones of the accident victim. The attorneys on our staff possess these attributes with over 100 years of combined criminal defense experience. Whether you were arrested in Rahway, Clark, Roselle Park, Springfield, Cranford or another Union County municipality, an attorney here has the skill needed to effectively defend your challenging case. Call us at 908-272-1700 for immediate assistance securing bail or to discuss the defense of your vehicular homicide charge with an attorney at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall.