A vehicular homicide case from 2017 made headlines again this week in Georgia after the college student who was convicted of causing the fatal accident asked a judge if he could study abroad while still serving on probation.
A Coweta County judge denied that request saying, “Allowing you to leave the country in essence is allowing you not to even be on probation.” The college student was convicted of first-degree vehicular homicide and two counts of serious injury by vehicle in Georgia. The 2017 accident resulted in the death of Kathryn Stephens and left both her fiancé and her fiancé's husband severely injured.
As a Georgia DUI Lawyer, I will outline the law behind vehicular homicide in today's post. The offense is one of the most serious offenses in Georgia and can be very complicated to understand.
Vehicular Homicide in Georgia
Homicide is the killing of a human being by another human being. That being said, not all homicides are criminal offenses. However, all killings of humans are included in the homicide definition.
Many homicides, such as murder and voluntary manslaughter, violate criminal laws.
Vehicular homicide in Georgia falls into the category of criminal offenses. Georgia Law divides the offense of vehicular homicide into two separate degrees.
First-degree vehicular homicide is defined by Georgia Law as:
When, without malice aforethought, a death is caused by the person either unlawfully passing a school bus, reckless driving, fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer, or leaving the scene of the accident.
To put it simply - first degree vehicular homicide occurs when a death results from another person:
- DUI in Georgia
- Reckless Driving in Georgia
- Unlawful Passing of a School Bus in Georgia
- Fleeing or Attempting to Elude a Police Officer in Georgia
- Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Georgia
First-degree vehicular homicide is classified as a felony. Conviction of a felony-grade vehicular homicide may warrant up to 15 years in prison.
Second-degree vehicular homicide is defined by Georgia Law as:
When death results due to a violation of any other statute other than the ones specified for homicide in the first degree.
First and second degree vehicular homicide are treated very differently regarding conviction penalties. Second-degree vehicular homicide is classified as a misdemeanor. Conviction of a misdemeanor vehicular homicide charge may warrant a sentence from a Georgia judge up to one year. An example of how this can happen is a death as a result of:
- Speeding in Georgia
- Failure to Maintain Lane in Georgia
- Illegal Passing in Georgia, etc.
As I mentioned above, vehicular homicide is one of the most serious offenses that a person can be accused of committing in the state of Georgia. However - just because someone has been accused of committing an offense does not mean that they are guilty of committing that particular offense.
If you or a loved one has been arrested, please contact our offices today. A Georgia DUI Attorney can help now.