Under California law, if you were operating a vehicle in gross or reckless
manner and caused a crash that resulted in death, you could be charged
with vehicular manslaughter. Although you might know that a person driving
a car in a careless way that causes a fatal accident could be charged
with a criminal offense, you may not be aware that, depending on their
actions, a passenger could also face charges.
If you are the passenger in a vehicle that is involved in a crash that
results in the loss of another person’s life and you hide facts
about the accident, you could be considered an accessory to vehicular
manslaughter. California law defines an accessory as a person who knowingly and voluntarily
conceals information or evidence or harbors an individual who has committed
a crime with the intent to help them avoid criminal prosecution.
Accessory After the Fact to Vehicular Manslaughter
In 2016, a California woman was charged with this offense after her husband
crossed a double yellow line while he was driving down a highway. The
prosecutor alleged that his actions caused a vehicle to swerve onto the
shoulder and then back on the road. The driver of that car hit an oncoming
vehicle, which resulted in the death of three people.
The husband and wife initially left the scene, but returned and spoke with
police officers but did not admit to being involved in the accident nor
that the man crossed the double-yellow line.
During his trial, the husband said that he didn’t believe his actions
caused the collision. However, he was found guilty of vehicular manslaughter.
He faces 5 years, 4 months in prison.
The wife stated that she was asleep when the accident happened and was
not aware that her husband crossed the double-yellow line. She and her
attorney maintained that the driver of a truck on the road at the time
was actually responsible for the collision.
In September of 2019, the woman was convicted of being an accessory after
the fact to vehicular manslaughter. She could be sentenced to up to 4
years, 8 months in prison.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Appel & Morse
Facing allegations for a criminal offense can be a stressful and frightening
time. The accusations might be inaccurate and the outcome unknown. Our
attorneys can help you understand the legal system and its processes.
When you retain our services, we will explain the charges you’re
facing and potential consequences. We will work tirelessly to challenge
the evidence against you and seek a favorable result on your behalf.
Our team is ready to provide the legal help you need. Call us at (805)
contact us online.