When a driver kills an individual as a result of driving a motor vehicle with reckless disregard in South Carolina it is referred to as reckless homicide. Reckless disregard is defined as an individual knowing that they are committing a dangerous act but going ahead to do it.
For you to be convicted of reckless homicide there is evidence that has been found showing that a driver legally caused the individual's death. It is not enough to just prove that the driver drove recklessly and that someone died. That will not be enough to get a conviction. It is important to prove that the defendant’s reckless driving caused the death of the victim.
You should note that it is not necessary for the victim to die immediately for you to be convicted of reckless homicide. According to the laws in South Carolina, an individual can be charged with reckless homicide if the victim dies within 3 years after the underlying accident.
What is Reckless Homicide?
When a homicide occurs that doesn’t imply or express malice it can be classified as manslaughter. Manslaughter is also defined as accidental killing. Compared to murder, manslaughter is less severely penalized. Punishment for murder as an offense can result in a person getting capital punishment, which is the death penalty. When it comes to manslaughter the severity of the penalty for the offense will be awarded based on whether manslaughter was voluntary or involuntary.
Involuntary manslaughter, also known as vehicular manslaughter, is a criminal offense in South Carolina that can be differentiated from manslaughter through criminal negligence. A criminally negligent homicide occurs as a result of the offender engaging in reckless behavior without regard for others and causing the death of another.
A voluntary offense in this case (which is simply referred to as manslaughter) can be differentiated from an extreme emotional provocation. This offense is usually identified as a heat of passion killing. If for example, the partner of a cheating spouse kills the person that was having an affair with their significant other in a fit of sudden rage it can be classified as a homicide.
Penalties for Reckless Homicide in SC
If as a result of the traffic accident the death of another individual occurs, the offender may have to face reckless homicide charges. The offense carries with it a maximum penalty of a 10 years prison sentence and a fine adding up to $5000 in South Carolina. As a result of reckless homicide, your driving license can be revoked for a period of 5 years.
An individual can petition the court to reinstate their driver’s license after they have completed their prison sentence, paid their fine, and filed a petition for their license to be reinstated one year from the period of revocation. A driver will be eligible for the provision as long as they were not driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, and if their attitude, character, habits, and overall driving record show that it’s safe for them to drive again. It may be hard to get a driver's license back if an individual has committed a subsequent violation or subsequent offense or has committed a separate offense.
If the defendant is to do this they are required to notify a representative of the deceased individual of their driving privilege reinstatement intentions. The individual can choose to demand to have a formal license reinstatement hearing that can be held so reinstatement of their driving license can be considered. If a hearing is not going to be held the court will consider the evidence and affidavits that have been submitted concerning the issue so it can make the judgment.
In the case where an individual that has received a moving traffic violation has their driving license reinstated under this provision, it will result in their driver’s license being suspended for the remaining of the original five-year period in which the license had been revoked.
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What to Do if You Are Charged With Reckless Homicide
If you facing a reckless homicide charge you should not take it lightly. A vehicular accident can result in mandatory imprisonment. Even if a traffic offense is a lesser-included offense compared to murder, it is a common law offense that will have you facing severe penalties. As a result of the criminal charge, there is a possibility of the individual getting severe jail time and it will have a negative impact on their driving record. Other than getting points on their license an individual with a reckless homicide conviction may have their insurance rates drastically increase.
Our lawyers at Touma Law Group are knowledgeable about motor vehicle laws. They will go through the initial offense incident report or accident report taken by the arresting law enforcement officer and gather additional evidence within a reasonable time before a trial judge or trial jury during an actual trial.
When you are facing reckless vehicular homicide charges the best thing that you can do is to get in touch with a South Carolina reckless driving attorney from Touma Law Group. In a case where there is a lot to lose, an experienced criminal attorney can make all the difference in the result of your case. Give the Touma Law Group criminal defense attorneys a call and book your first initial consultation.