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When a tragic car crash leads to negligent homicide charges in NH

On behalf of Starbranch Law on Tuesday, August 21, 2018.

Car accidents can often have tragic and unintended consequences. Sometimes, a simple mistake like glancing down at a phone while behind the wheel can mean the difference between life and death for someone sharing the road with you.

If you have experienced a car crash that resulted in the death of someone else, you may worry about the potential for a negligence homicide criminal charge. In other states, negligence homicide might get called involuntary manslaughter. In other words, you don’t have to intend to cause somebody harm to face criminal charges related to negligence homicide in New Hampshire.

How does New Hampshire define negligent homicide?

Every state has its own definitions and standards for offenses that result in the death of someone else. New Hampshire defines negligent homicide as any form of death caused by another person’s negligence. In other words, any kind of oversight, from failing to maintain your vehicle to driving it without adequate sleep, could result in a charge of negligent homicide.

In most cases, negligent homicide is a class B felony. That could include driving well over the speed limit or choosing to engage in distraction, such as texting, while in control of a vehicle. However, the state law provides an exception for anyone who causes the death of another while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.

In that scenario, the resulting charge will be a class A felony. In other words, negligent homicides involving alcohol or other drugs can result in more serious criminal consequences and greater penalties in the state of New Hampshire.

It is possible to defend against negligent homicide charges

Some people mistakenly believe that a conviction for negligent homicide is a given. After all, law enforcement and the prosecutor probably knew you were driving the vehicle when they chose to charge you. However, just because you were driving and made a mistake doesn’t inherently mean that neglect played a role in that mistake. Sometimes, other factors complicate the situation.

It is possible to raise a successful defense against charges related to negligent homicide. Your options will vary from case the case, so it is important to look carefully at the details of your situation before making any important legal decisions, such as pleading guilty to a pending charge.

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Harry N. Starbranch
Harry Starbranch
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  • Portsmouth Office
    Nathaniel Walker House
    171 Middle Street
    Portsmouth, New Hampshire 03801
    Phone: 603-436-5566
    Fax: 603-373-8421