Have you been Charged with Homicide by Vessel?
Georgia has many beautiful lakes that thousands of people visit on weekends, holidays, and even weekdays. During the summertime especially, we hear about boating accidents all the time. One of the terms you generally hear is homicide by vessel. Simplified, this means the death of someone due to a watercraft. Most people are not aware that homicide by vessel does not require the action be intentional. Homicide by Vessel can be a felony and carries substantial penalties. Our Georgia Homicide by Vessel Attorneys have a great deal of experience of negotiating charges, and they will use their experience to fight for you.
Homicide by Vessel in the First Degree
O.C.G.A. §57-7-12.2(a)&(b) read as follows:
(a) A person commits the crime of homicide by vessel in the first degree when without malice aforethought; they cause the death of another person by violating one of the following statutes:
- No person shall operate a personal watercraft on the waters of this state at a speed greater than idle speed within 100 feet of any moored or anchored vessel, or vessel adrift, or any wharf, dock, pier, piling, bridge structure or abutment, person in the water, or shoreline adjacent to a full-time or part-time residence, public park, public swimming area, marina, restaurant, or other public use area. O.C.G.A. §52-7-8.2(j)
- No person shall operate, navigate, steer, or drive any moving vessel, or be in actual physical control of any moving vessel, nor shall any person manipulate any moving water skis, moving aquaplane, moving surfboard, or similar moving device while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, toxic vapors, or the combined influence of two or more of the substances mentioned to the extent that it is less safe for the person to operate, navigate, steer, driver, manipulate, or be in actual physical control of a moving vessel, moving water skis, moving aquaplane, moving surfboard, or similar moving device. O.C.G.A. §52-7-12.
- Except for lifesaving, emergency, law enforcement, or dam operation and maintenance craft, it shall be unlawful to launch, float, or operate:
- Any power boat within the boundaries of the boating safety zones defined in subsection (a) of this Code section; or
- Any vessel within the boundaries of those boating safety zones defined in subparagraphs (a)(2)(A) and (a)(2)(B) of this Code section, provided such zones are marked in accordance with the uniform waterway marking system. O.C.G.A. §52-7-13(b)
- Every vessel subject to this article if underway and upon being hailed by a designated law enforcement officer shall stop immediately and lay to or shall maneuver in such a way as to permit the officer to come aboard. O.C.G.A. §52-7-25(c)
(b) Any operator of a vessel who, without malice aforethought, causes a collision or accident which causes the death of another person and leaves the scene of the collision of accident in violation of subsection (a) of Code Section 57-2-14 commits the offense of homicide by vessel in the first degree, and upon conviction, thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than three years nor more than 15 years.
In sum, Georgia law provides that a suspect must be guilty of one of the above-mentioned offenses before they can be guilty of homicide by vessel. You cannot be found guilty of felony homicide by vessel if you are not charged or found guilty of one of the predicate offenses.
The penalty for a homicide by vessel conviction in the first degree will be treated as a felony, and you will be subject to a fine and/or a prison term between three and fifteen years. A felony conviction could affect you obtaining credit, jobs, houses, and could cause you to lose your license. It is crucial to have an experienced Attorney on your side. Contact one of ours today.
Homicide by Vessel in the Second Degree
O.C.G.A. §57-7-12.2(c) reads as follows:
(c) Any person who causes the death of another person, without an intention to do so, by violating any provision of this title other than [the ones mentioned in (a) or (b)] commits the offense of homicide by vessel in the second degree when such violation is the cause of said death.
The penalty for being convicted of homicide by vessel in the second degree will be deemed a misdemeanor and will include a fine, a period of incarceration, or both. The fine will not exceed $1,000.00, and the jail term will not exceed 12 months. In addition, if a six-month sentence or less is imposed, the sentencing judge has the authority and discretion to allow the sentence to be served on weekends or during the nonworking hours of the defendant. O.C.G.A. §17-10-3
How Can We Help You?
Homicide by Vessel in Georgia is a complex crime. Our Attorneys will analyze every detail you give us to make sure you are being charged with the correct crime and to try and negotiate a deal. A felony conviction can have drastic consequences, and we want to work for you to make sure that doesn't happen.
First, if you are not guilty of one of the predicate offenses such as DUI etc., then you cannot be guilty of felony serious injury by vessel.
Second, your Attorney will look into is what speed exactly you were going (if it applies to your case). If you can prove that you were adhering to idle speed, then you cannot be guilty of homicide by vessel in the first degree.
Third, if you can demonstrate that you were not under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or toxic vapors, then your Attorney will move to have the charges reduced or dismissed because of your particular circumstances.
On another note, your Attorney will also look into whether or not you were actually within the boundaries of the boating safety zone.
Contact Us Today to Protect You
No one knows better than our office the seriousness of Georgia's Homicide by Vessel statutes. You are facing severe penalties, and we are prepared to help you fight your case. We are here 24 hours a day, 365 days a year even nights, weekends, and holidays. Contact us today for a free consultation.