Under Alabama law, if the operator of a vehicle causes the death of another person as a result of knowingly engaging in some violation of Alabama's traffic laws and this violation is the proximate cause of another person's death, the operator of that vehicle can be faced with homicide by vehicle or vessel.
This crime is a class C felony.
Under Alabama law, a class A felony carries a range of punishment from one year and one day to 10 years in prison.
To be prosecuted, the death must be proximately caused by the actions of the person who was operating the vehicle.
To translate the law into plain English, it means the driver's violation of law needed to be the direct causal factor resulting in the death of the victim.
To put it the way Alabama courts, do, proximate cause means “that cause which in the natural and probable sequence of events, and without the intervention of any new or independent cause produces the injury and without which such injury would not have occurred.”
Say Ace Lightning is going 10 miles over the speed limit and although he sees a stop sign and breaks, his car skids through the stop sign killing Bad Luck Buster.
Is Ace guilty?
The answer depends on a variety of factors. Ace's lawyer would investigate these factors to determine an appropriate defense.
The issue is whether Ace's speeding is directly responsible for Bad Luck Buster's death.
For example, if the stop sign was placed too close to the road when it was installed, this could be an intervening factor that resulted in Buster's death.
By the way, I can think of one real-life case that was successfully defended with similar facts.
Ace's lawyer might look to whether the vehicle's breaks were manufactured properly.
Similarly, Ace's lawyer might investigate if Buster contributed to his own death by doing something such as running a red light.
Cases like this can be complicated.
Both the defense and prosecution may engage the services of an accident reconstructionist and other experts.
If you or someone you love is accused of a crime you should obtain legal counsel as quickly as possible.
Not only do you want a lawyer to protect your rights but it may be necessary to preserve evidence.
You want to be sure your rights are protected and that no critical evidence is lost.
If you'd like our help, just contact us here:
If you'd like to read the actual law, is reproduced here:
(a) A person who causes the death of another person while knowingly engaged in the violation of Title 32, Chapter 5A, excluding Section 32-5A-191, applying to the operation or use of a vehicle, as defined in Section 32-1-1.1(81), may be guilty of homicide by vehicle when the violation is the proximate cause of the death.
(b) A person convicted of homicide by vehicle under subsection (a) is guilty of a Class C felony.
Section 32-5A-190.1 Code of Alabama