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Homicide by a Motor Vehicle

In Massachusetts, homicide by a motor vehicle may be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor depending on whether or not the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the alleged offense. This law is divided into two subsections: misdemeanor vehicular homicide (§ 24G[b]), caused either by operation under the influence, or reckless operation, or negligent operation, and felony vehicular homicide (§ 24G[a]), caused by operation under the influence coupled with either reckless or negligent operation. Under Commonwealth v. Meehan, in the event that the defendant causes multiple deaths in a single accident, each death may be charged and punished as separate offenses. If you have been charged with homicide by a motor vehicle, the attorney you choose to represent you may be the most important decision of your lifetime. You need an attorney with the experience to handle your case effectively and the dedication to seek the best possible result for you.

Felony Motor Vehicle Homicide/Homicide Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs

M.G.L. c. 90, § 24G (a) dictates that any individual with a BAC (blood alcohol content) of 0.08 or greater, or while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, marihuana, narcotic drugs, depressants, or stimulant substances and who operates a motor vehicle on any public way recklessly or negligently, and through such operation causes the death of another person shall be guilty in Massachusetts of felony homicide by a motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicating substance. A convicted offender of this felony offense shall be punishable by the following:

  • Mandatory minimum imprisonment in the state prison for 2.5 years or no more than 15 years, and a fine not to exceed $5,000, or
  • Mandatory minimum imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for 1 year or no more than 2.5 years and a fine not to exceed $5,000.

In order to be found guilty of this crime, the prosecution must prove five things beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant operated a motor vehicle;
  2. The defendant operated it on a public way or in a place where the public has a right of access, or in a place where members of the public have access as invitees or licensees;
  3. While the defendant was operating the vehicle, he or she had a BAC of 0.08 or greater, or was under the influence of intoxicating liquor, marijuana, narcotic drugs, depressants, stimulants or vapors of glue;
  4. And while the defendant was operating the vehicle, he/she did one of the following -
    • (a) Reckless Operation - The defendant operated the vehicle in a manner considered to be reckless,
    • (b) Negligent Operation - The defendant operated the vehicle in a negligent manner so that the lives and safety of the public might have been endangered; and
  5. The defendant’s actions caused the death of another person.
Misdemeanor Motor Vehicle Homicide in Massachusetts

M.G.L. c. 90, § 24G (b) provides that any individual with a BAC (blood alcohol content) of 0.08 or greater, or while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, marihuana, narcotic drugs, depressants, or stimulant substances, or who operates a motor vehicle on any public way recklessly or negligently, and through any such operation causes the death of another person shall be guilty of homicide by a motor vehicle. A convicted offender of this felony offense shall be punishable by the following:

  • Mandatory minimum imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for 30 days, but no more than 2.5 years, or
  • A fine ranging from $300 to $3,000, or
  • Both such fine and imprisonment.

In order to be found guilty of this crime, the prosecution must prove four things beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant operated a motor vehicle;
  2. The defendant operated it on a public way or in a place where the public has a right of access, or in a place where members of the public have access as invitees or licensees;
  3. And while the defendant was operating the vehicle, he/she did one of the following -
    • (a) OUI - He or she had a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or greater, or was under the influence of intoxicating liquor, marijuana, narcotic drugs, depressants, stimulants or vapors of glue,
    • (b) Reckless Operation - The defendant operated the vehicle in a manner considered to be reckless,
    • (c) Negligent Operation - The defendant operated the vehicle in a negligent manner so that the lives and safety of the public might have been endangered; and
  4. The defendant’s actions caused the death of another person.
Penalties by the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV)

In addition to the above punishments, violation of either subsection (a) or (b) shall also result in the Registry of Motor Vehicles consequences including revoking the offender’s driving privileges for a period of 15 years after the date of conviction for a first offense. The Registry of Motor Vehicles shall revoke the offender’s driving privileges for life after conviction of a second or subsequent violation. Upon being charged with motor vehicle homicide, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended. In the event of an acquittal, one must still attend a hearing at the Registry to have your license reinstated.

Dedicated and Meticulous Motor Vehicle Homicide Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one has been charged with misdemeanor or felony Homicide by Motor Vehicle, you need a very competent Massachusetts motor vehicle homicide criminal defense lawyer with extensive knowledge of the legal system who can begin building a strategy for your defense immediately, one who is familiar with the use of expert witness testimony. The Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy has made a name for itself over the past 18 years as a successful and effective criminal defense firm based out of Boston, Massachusetts. Patrick J. Murphy, Esq. has countless experience investigating cases, providing sound legal advice and aggressively representing his clients facing a wide array of criminal charges. While the job of a prosecutor is to prepare a case against you and prove your guilt in regards to a crime, it is the job of a talented Boston, Massachusetts homicide defense attorney to defend your rights aggressively in order to avoid a conviction for the offense charged and to minimize or avoid the imposition of harsh legal consequences. Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy 24/7 for a free, confidential consultation by calling (617) 367-0450 or email us directly using our online contact form.

Client Reviews
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