Criminal Vehicular Operation and Vehicular Homicide crimes in Minnesota require both bodily harm plus either:
- gross negligence,
- negligence plus DUI (alcohol or other drug impairment, or 0.08 alcohol within two hours)
- hit and run, or
- failure to repair.
There is no crime unless evidence proves causation. So, the prosecutor needs evidence of a causal connection between the bodily harm and the intentional criminal act.
If the level of bodily harm is death, the crime is Criminal Vehicular Homicide.
But most Criminal Vehicular Operation charges relate to a DUI claim plus bodily harm caused by the driver.
As a result, the defense of CVO cases is similar to the defense of DUI cases. But we have the additional potential defense that the driver did not cause injury to another. We can defend Criminal Vehicular charges where the accused did not cause the bodily harm or death.
And sometimes we see these charges along with a Fleeing Police charge.
For example, an impaired driver goes through a green light and collides with a sober driver running a red light. The impaired driver did not cause any accident injuries. The sober driver who ran the red light was the cause.
If someone dies but the driver is not the cause of the death, she is not guilty of Vehicular Homicide. If someone suffers bodily harm, but the driver is not the cause, he is not-guilty of Criminal Vehicular Operation.
One of our drivers had to suddenly stop in a curve, while already slowing for an intersection. Another driver crossed over the center-line. The other car was driving in our client’s lane after turning onto that road. (The oncoming, wrong-way driver had turned wide.) Our client’s car then weighted its front right corner, skidded, and rolled-over.
The accident hurt our client’s passenger. But our client did not cause the injuries. The the wrong-way driver caused the crash, and the injuries.
Most criminal vehicular charges involve a car accident. The prosecutor’s claims the accident’s cause was the defendant’s gross negligence. But, the burden of proving that is on the state.
Sometimes, however, the defense attorney recommends hiring an accident reconstruction expert. The expert can help uncover the true cause of the accident. And, she can testify for the defense to help the jury better understand the cause of the accident.
Attorney Thomas Gallagher has decades experience working with accident reconstruction expert witnesses. First they investigate the facts. Then, they analyze them. Finally the expert can assist the court with testimony.
Level of Bodily Harm
The prosecutor will claim a level of bodily harm caused by the defendant. The severity of the criminal vehicular charge varies with the level of harm.
In death, death or injury to an unborn child, “great bodily harm,” or “substantial bodily harm” cases; the prosecutor charges a felony.
But in cases alleging “bodily harm,” the criminal charge is a gross misdemeanor.
Four levels of bodily harm can be an element:
- Great bodily harm,
- Substantial bodily harm, or
- Bodily harm
But, the bodily harm must be “to another.” So, if a driver injures herself only, a prosecutor may not charge a Criminal Vehicular Operation or Homicide crime. We did have such a case, but we successfully got a judge to dismiss before trial.
Lesser included offense
Reckless driving is a lesser-included offense. It’s basically really bad driving without proof of impairment or injury to another.
Criminal Vehicular Operation Defense Attorney
Attorney Thomas Gallagher can help defend you from a Criminal Vehicular Homicide or Operation charge. His three decades experience serves you well.
A recognized expert defense attorney, he will listen to you. He will recommend options for the best defense available in the situation.
In addition the defenses above, the defense strategies we normally use, come in handy for these cases as well.
For example, if we have a confession to deal with, we can move the court to suppress. We won a hit and run case after the court’s involuntary statement suppression order.
Hard work brings luck. And Thomas Gallagher’s clients have been lucky, year after year.
Questions? Get answers. Call Minneapolis Criminal Vehicular Operation Attorney Thomas Gallagher at (612) 333-1500.