September 28, 2023
In Colorado, a charge of vehicular homicide comes with serious penalties. In this post we’ll break down the law on vehicular homicide and how it applies to individual cases. We’ll also describe the penalties and let you know what legal help is available.
First, let’s look at a couple of actual recent cases.
Two Recent Vehicular Homicide Cases
On Jan. 27, a three-vehicle crash killed two and injured three on Interstate 25 near Denver. A 2006 black Jeep utility vehicle was driving the wrong way in the HOV lane and crashed with a 2003 Honda CRV. Then the Honda crashed into a 2002 Chevy Impala. A 47-year-old man and a 17-year-old boy were killed in the crash.
Kimberly Rodriguez Roldan, 24, of Denver, was identified as the Jeep driver. She may face potential charges of vehicular homicide for the two deaths.
In another case, a 13-year-old girl was killed and three others were injured in a single vehicle crash in Colorado Springs on Jan. 13. A 17-year-old boy was driving a Mercedes SUV that held three teenage passengers. The driver lost control of the vehicle and it rolled, ejecting the 13-year-old girl, who died. The 17-year-old driver is now facing one count of vehicular homicide as well as other charges which include reckless driving.
How Colorado Defines Vehicular Homicide
In Colorado, an individual can be charged with vehicular homicide if he or she kills someone with a vehicle as a direct result of drunk driving, distracted driving, or reckless driving.
If an individual causes vehicular homicide due to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, a Class 3 felony charge applies. Blood results will be required to prove that the individual was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident. If the police have probable cause that the individual was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the scene, they can draw a blood sample without consent – even if they need to use physical restraint.
If the vehicular homicide was due to distracted or reckless driving, a Class 4 felony charge will apply. Distracted or reckless driving is considered negligent behavior, which means that an individual knows driving laws but disregards them, causing substantial and unreasonable risk to others.
Penalties for Vehicular Homicide in Colorado
If an individual is convicted of vehicular homicide due to DWI or DUI, the sentence will be four to 12 years in prison and a fine between $3,000 and $750,000. Sentencing can extend to up to 24 years in prison if the judge determines that unusual aggravating factors existed in the case.
A conviction for vehicular homicide due to distracted or reckless driving will result in 2-6 years in prison and a fine between $2,000 and $500,000. The prison sentence can be extended to 12 years if the case has unusual aggravating factors.
In both cases, the individual will also lose his or her driver’s license for at least one year.
If you are convicted for traffic offenses or other charges stemming from the accident, you will receive sentencing for those convictions at the same time as for your vehicular homicide charges.
Since these penalties are so serious, you need to enlist the help of a skilled felony crimes attorney who will protect your rights and work hard to get your sentence reduced.
How an Experienced Colorado Vehicular Homicide Lawyer Can Help
If you or someone you know is facing charges of vehicular homicide, don’t wait to call an experienced vehicular homicide lawyer for help. You need to contact a skilled attorney immediately after the incident because most of the evidence is collected from the scene, and your rights may be in jeopardy if no one advocates for you.
Along with murder cases, vehicular homicide cases are prosecuted to the furthest extent of the law. You need a skilled attorney to help you navigate what is often an emotionally charged and traumatic experience.
Under Colorado law, vehicular homicide is a victim’s rights crime. The prosecutor must convey potential plea bargains or sentencing with the victim’s family members before brokering a deal with you and your attorney. Since victim families often seek full punishment, you need a tough legal advocate to fight for your rights.
You also need a compassionate advocate who understands the guilt and pressure you may be facing after the death of a person who may have been close to you. You need a professional who will use every available defense and help you find the best possible outcome. Call today for a free, no-obligation case review.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.