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Waldorf, MD Criminal Defense: When Can a Maryland Fatal Car Accident Become Criminal Vehicular Manslaughter?

Whenever there is an auto accident in Maryland that results in a fatality, there is always the chance that criminal charges will be filed. In Maryland, it is a crime to cause the death of another person while operating a motor vehicle if the person causing the death was “criminally negligent.” See Md. Crim. Code, § 2-210(b). In relevant part, the statute states: “A person may not cause the death of another as the result of the person’s driving, operating, or controlling a vehicle or vessel in a criminally negligent manner.”

The statute also states in subsection (d) that it “.. is not a violation of this section for a person to cause the death of another as the result of the person’s driving, operating, or controlling a vehicle or vessel in a negligent manner.” From this, we see that a fatal Maryland car accident can be charged as vehicular manslaughter (or vehicular homicide) if there is proof of “criminal negligence.” Further, we can also see that one of the best Maryland criminal defense strategies is to show to the jury that there was no “criminal negligence.” In other words, a good legal defense to the crime of vehicular manslaughter is to argue and show that it was just an accident — common civil negligence instead of criminal negligence.

If you have been arrested and charged with vehicular manslaughter, contact us at the Law Office of Robert Castro. Our number is (301) 705-5137. We are available around the clock, 24/7. We are top-tier Maryland criminal defense lawyers. In the remainder of this article, we will examine the difference between regular “negligence” and “criminal negligence.”

Charles County, Maryland Criminal Defense: What is “negligence” vs. “criminal negligence?”

Under Maryland law, normal negligence is a civil law concept that involves four elements: duty, breach, causation, and damage or injury. A commonly mentioned duty for drivers is the duty of care. This means driving carefully, watching for others on the road, trying to avoid dangers, etc. For drivers, there are also duties imposed by Maryland law, such as the duty to obey traffic laws. Under the concept of civil negligence, you may be held liable for an accident if you are not paying attention while driving or driving too fast.

The definition of “criminal negligence” is provided in Maryland Criminal Code, § 2-210(c), which states that “… a person acts in a criminally negligent manner with respect to a result or a circumstance when:

(1) the person should be aware, but fails to perceive, that the person’s conduct creates a substantial and unjustifiable risk that such a result will occur;  and

(2) the failure to perceive constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that would be exercised by a reasonable person.”

As can be seen, criminal negligence is a much higher standard. The words “standard of care” can be likened to what we described above as civil negligence. As such, criminal negligence must be a “gross deviation” from how a “reasonable person” would behave on the roads.

Contact Waldorf, Maryland Criminal Defense Lawyer Robert Castro Today

This article has been provided by the Law Office of Robert Castro. For more information or questions, contact our office to speak to an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer at (301) 705-5137. We are Waldorf, MD, Criminal Defense lawyers. Our address is 2670 Crain Highway, Waldorf, MD 20601.