Specialized Defense

Defenses to Vehicular Homicide & Serious Injury by Accident Allegations

Vehicular homicide and serious injury by vehicle, alcohol related cases are defended very similarly to operating while intoxicated cases; albeit with much more at stake. 

Blood Draw Evidence

In addition to traditional defenses to operating while intoxicated cases, vehicular homicide and serious injury by vehicle cases normally involve blood draws or urine collection from a suspect while the suspect is also lying injured in the hospital.  This creates a number of issues and potential defenses.  Anytime law enforcement wishes to withdraw blood from a person against their will there are a number of legal rights and procedures that must be complied with.  Any mistakes by the officers can result in the blood sample or urine sample analysis being declared inadmissible in the criminal prosecution.

Analyzing Blood Draw Samples

Most of the time, it takes time for the samples to be analyzed and results to be reported by the crime lab.  Once those reports are obtained by the investigating officer, it also takes a considerable amount of time for the investigating officer or agency to complete their technical collision report setting out their findings.  During this time, the suspect may not even know they are being investigated.  Unfortunately this can lead to some very important steps in an effective defense being overlooked. 

Evidence Destroyed

Most importantly, the Iowa crime lab only preserves evidentiary samples for 90 days following testing.  If no request to preserve is made, they are destroyed but their test results are saved.  It is important to get a qualified lawyer involved immediately to ensure that any bodily fluids withdrawn by the government for evidentiary purposes are preserved for independent testing in the event charges are filed.  Time is of the essence in this regard.

The legal theory of “proximate cause” is also a focal point of any vehicular homicide or serious injury by vehicle defense.  This is an additional element that the state must prove.  They must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual’s alleged intoxicated was a substantial cause of the accident.  Fatality and serious injury accidents are an unfortunate reality on our highways.  However, for someone to be criminally responsible for such an action, their alleged criminal conduct must be a reason for the accident.  It is not enough for the State to prove that a person was intoxicated and got into an accident where a person was seriously injured or killed.  The prosecution must prove that the action of being intoxicated was a substantial cause to the accident taking place.  If the accident would have occurred even if the vehicle was being operated or driven by a sober person, the defendant cannot be held criminally responsible.  A good example of this would be a vehicle pulling out illegally in front of the defendant’s vehicle.  Another situation often arises in prescription drug or narcotics cases where the substance may still be present in the person system but not “active” to a point where it would cause any impairment. 

Defense Attorneys In Vehicular Homicide Cases

In all of these types of cases, it is imperative to have a knowledgeable defense attorney when the stakes are the highest.  Just as important, the best defense will always involve well-qualified expert witnesses in accident reconstruction, human factors and toxicology.

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