We recognise that facing serious allegations such as causing death by driving can be a stressful ordeal. That’s why we’ll treat your case with the upmost care and attention.
In the UK, the number of instances in which death is caused by dangerous driving has been on the rise, and in 2014 there were 226 recorded crimes of this nature. Dangerous or careless driving is a serious offence and courts issue severe penalties to individuals found guilty. And where this is found to have caused death, the court can hand down substantial prison sentences.
If you have been charged with a fatal motoring offence, and want representation, legal advice, or to contend the charge, First4lawyers can help. By getting in touch we can assess your situation, and match you with an experienced solicitor who will take into account the potential personal impact of the charge and its penalties at every stage of the case.
What are fatal offences?
To be found guilty of causing death by driving, the prosecution must prove beyond all reasonable doubt that the death of another person was caused – either in part or completely – by your driving. There are four categories that fatal offences can fall into:
- Causing death by dangerous driving
- Causing death by careless driving
- Causing death by careless driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Causing death while driving unlicensed, disqualified, or uninsured
The court views dangerous driving as any instance in which your standard of driving has fallen far below that expected of a competent and careful driver. Examples include racing, driving aggressively, overtaking in an unsafe manner, ignoring traffic signals, and driving in a vehicle you know is not safe to drive in.
There are various other acts that might constitute dangerous driving in the eyes of the court, and each case is judged on its own merits. Fatal offence charges are always dealt with at a Crown court.
What are the penalties for fatal offences?
The maximum penalty that can be issued for causing death by dangerous driving is a prison sentence of 14 years and a driving ban of at least two years.
The penalties for causing death by careless driving, as opposed to dangerous driving, are somewhat lower, ranging from a community order through to a five-year custodial sentence, a 12-month driving ban, and a discretionary re-test.
However, if you are found guilty of having caused death by careless driving while under the influence of drugs, the penalty is likely to be more severe – up to 14 years imprisonment, with a minimum two-year driving ban and a discretionary re-test.
Causing death while driving in a vehicle that was unlicensed, or if you were disqualified from driving or uninsured at the time of the accident, is punishable with penalties ranging from a community order, through to a two-year custodial sentence, a 12-month driving ban and a discretionary re-test.
What are the defences to fatal offences?
Fatal offences are typically complex in nature, and the court likely must be convinced of a number of key points in order for a prosecution to be successfully made against you.
If you can persuade the court that the incident was caused by a momentary lapse, rather than a sustained period of careless or dangerous driving, then there is a chance that the court may show leniency in sentencing. The penalties issued in fatal offence cases are at the court’s discretion, and are based on how the court views the standard of driving that caused the incident.
If you can convince the court that no recklessness was shown, and that you didn’t show a complete disregard for safety, then these factors may be treated as mitigating features in your case. Likewise, if your defence can prove that there was only a single incident of dangerous or careless driving, rather than multiple acts, then this will help your case.
It is important to ensure you have good, experienced legal representation when facing a fatal motoring offence. First4lawyers can match you to a knowledgeable solicitor, skilled in this area of the law.
A good defence team will be able to recognise when there may be the opportunity to negotiate with the prosecution for a lesser charge. For example, a guilty plea to causing death by careless driving, in a case where the original charge of dangerous driving was difficult to prove, might lead to a reduced, non-custodial sentence.
I’ve been charged with a fatal offence and I want to dispute it – what should I do?
Fatal offence charges are serious and complex, but the specialist motoring solicitors from First4lawyers can help you every step of the way and give you a full understanding of the strongest defence available to you.
Our solicitors can help with the arrangement of investigations into the crash you were involved in, and we offer no-obligation advice to anyone who contacts us regarding a fatal offence charge.
Contact First4lawyers as early as possible so that no time is wasted in building your defence.