The least serious crime that a driver in Las Vegas, Nevada, can be charged with for causing a fatal car accident is vehicular manslaughter, which is only a misdemeanor in Nevada. Our criminal defense lawyers have years of experience in successfully resolving these collision-related offenses so you stay out of prison and keep your criminal records clean. Keep reading to learn the law.
Definition (NRS 484B.657)
The legal definition of vehicular manslaughter in Las Vegas, Nevada, concerns "A person who, while driving or in actual physical control of any vehicle, proximately causes the death of another person through an act or omission that constitutes simple negligence."
Driving with "simple negligence" in Nevada is a failure to act in the way a reasonable person would in that situation. Typical examples of driving negligently in Las Vegas vehicular manslaughter cases are the following:
- not yielding or stopping at a stop sign
- speeding slightly over the limit
- plowing through a bus stop
- not having your headlights on at night
- texting while driving
- running a red light
What differentiates the misdemeanor of "vehicular manslaughter" from the Nevada felony offense of "reckless driving causing death in Nevada" is the state of mind of the driver at the time of the accident. Whereas simple negligence arises out of momentary lapses in judgment like the ones listed above, recklessness results from the driver's willful disregard to others' safety such as speeding excessively or running a series of stoplights.
Note that vehicular manslaughter is an entirely separate offense from "vehicular homicide in Las Vegas," which is the most serious class of Nevada felony and potentially carries a life sentence. Drivers can be convicted of vehicular homicide in Las Vegas only if they are allegedly under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the deadly collision and if they have three previous DUI convictions. (NRS 484C.130)
Also note that "act or omission" means an "unlawful act or omission," and "simple negligence" is read as "ordinary negligence." (Cornella v. Justice Court, 132 Nev. Adv. Op. 58, 2016)
Anyone charged with a crime must remember that being accused is not the same as a guilty verdict. it is the job of your criminal defense attorney to go over the facts of the case and the scene of the accident in order to find holes in the prosecutors' evidence and to dismantle their case. Two common defenses for violating vehicular manslaughter laws in Las Vegas, Nevada, are:
- the driver's driving was not the cause of the death
- the person who died was more at fault than the driver
The standard punishment for a vehicular manslaughter conviction in Nevada include the following:
- Up to six months in jail, and/or
- Up to $1,000 in fines, and
- license suspension for a year.
The sentence may be as much as doubled if the accident allegedly occurred in a work zone in Las Vegas. (NRS 484B.130) But unlike in California where the offense of vehicular manslaughter can be either a misdemeanor or a felony, it can be charged as only a misdemeanor in Nevada.
Vehicular Manslaughter as a plea bargain
If you are accused of reckless driving causing death in Nevada and the prosecutors will not dismiss the case outright, your lawyer may be successful in persuading them to at least reduce the charges to vehicular manslaughter instead. This way, you avoid risking a guilty verdict at trial, and you get only a misdemeanor conviction that potentially carries no jail time and can be sealed from your criminal record in only two years.
We are here to help . . .
If you have hit a pedestrian in Nevada or been charged with breaking vehicular manslaughter laws in Nevada (NRS 484B.657), call our Las Vegas DUI defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a free phone meeting. We also provide criminal defense for immigrants and non-citizens and make every effort to ensure their resident status is not jeopardized.
For information about California vehicular manslaughter law, go to our page on California vehicular manslaughter law.