What constitutes “vehicular assault” in the State of New York? If you are accused of the crime of vehicular assault, what are your rights? What steps should you take? Your first priority after a vehicular assault arrest is to contact a Nassau County vehicular assault attorney immediately.
If you injure or harm another person while you are operating a motor vehicle on Long Island or anywhere else in New York, in addition to being liable in civil court for any injuries and damage that you’ve caused, you may be charged and prosecuted for the crime of vehicular assault if it alleged that you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
You are about to read a short introduction to vehicular assault and your rights in New York, but if you are charged with vehicular assault in this state, you should know that the laws briefly described here include a number of details and exceptions, and you must have personalized legal advice from a Long Island vehicular assault lawyer.
How Are Vehicular Assaults Handled in New York?
Vehicular assault is assault that involves the intentional use of a vehicle which causes harm to another person. Vehicular assault is a felony in New York. Depending on the details of the incident, a Long Island prosecutor may file one of these vehicular assault charges against a defendant:
- vehicular assault in the second degree, which is a Class E felony
- vehicular assault in the first degree, which is a Class D felony
- aggravated vehicular assault, which is a Class C felony
If a vehicular assault results in a victim’s death, the charge increases to vehicular manslaughter (a Class C or Class D felony) or to aggravated vehicular homicide (a Class B felony). Vehicular assault may possibly be linked to domestic violence, so a vehicular assault charge may be only one of several charges a defendant will face.
What Constitutes Vehicular Assault in New York?
Second-degree vehicular assault occurs when a motorist who is operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol causes serious physical injury to another person. The charge becomes first-degree vehicular assault if one or more of these factors also applies to the case:
- The driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) level was 0.18 percent or higher.
- His or her license was revoked or suspended due to a prior intoxicated driving conviction.
- The motorist has any prior conviction for DWI or another vehicular crime.
- More than one person was injured in the vehicular assault incident.
- A child age 15 or younger was a passenger and suffered serious injuries.
What Constitutes Aggravated Vehicular Assault?
The most serious vehicular assault charge in New York is aggravated vehicular assault, and it is also the most legally complicated. There are several elements or parts to an aggravated vehicular assault charge.
To be charged with aggravated vehicular assault, a defendant (a) had to commit the crime of reckless driving, and (b) had to simultaneously commit the crime of second-degree vehicular assault.
How Does the Legal Process Work for Vehicular Assault Cases?
Every vehicular assault charge is a felony charge, and in New York, a felony case must be presented to a grand jury unless a defendant waives this condition. Grand jurors, from sixteen to twenty-three people, review the state’s case against a defendant and decide whether to indict.
At least twelve of the grand jurors must vote to indict the defendant in order for the prosecution to proceed. However, if the grand jurors find only evidence of a misdemeanor, they may direct the prosecutor to file a misdemeanor charge.
What Steps Should You Take If You’re Arrested for Vehicular Assault?
If you’re taken into police custody and you’re charged with vehicular assault or with aggravated vehicular assault on Long Island or anywhere else in New York, it is imperative for you to exercise your constitutional rights.
Your legal rights include the right to remain silent and the right to have your Nassau County vehicular assault attorney present for any questioning. Don’t try explaining your side of the story to the police. Anything that you say to an officer could be used against you in a court of law.
Be friendly, compliant, and cooperative, but insist politely on your rights. Say something like, “I would rather not answer your questions and speak to my lawyer.” Then say nothing else to the police, and as quickly as possible, contact a Long Island vehicular assault lawyer.
It’s important for your defense attorney to examine the evidence before it deteriorates – or disappears – and to question any witnesses while their memories are still fresh. After an arrest, contacting an attorney must be your immediate priority.
How Will A Lawyer Handle Your Vehicular Assault Case?
A Long Island vehicular assault attorney will investigate the charge against you and will uncover any flaws or weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. In most vehicular assault cases, your defense attorney will then work to have the charge dismissed.
If the charges against you can’t be dismissed, at your option, your lawyer will advocate aggressively and effectively on your behalf at trial, explain what happened, and tell the jurors why they should acquit you of the charge.
What Else Should You Know About Vehicular Assault?
If the prosecution’s case against you is strong, your vehicular assault attorney may negotiate a plea deal instead of taking the case to trial. Typically in a plea agreement, the defendant pleads guilty to a reduced charge and agrees to serve an alternative or reduced sentence.
A plea deal offer from the prosecution is more likely if it is your first offense. Don’t negotiate on your own or try to act as your own lawyer. The vehicular assault laws in New York are too complicated, and your future will be on the line. A mistake could have serious consequences.
A vehicular assault conviction can send you to prison – for as long as 25 years, in case of aggravated vehicular homicide – so you cannot face a vehicular assault charge alone. An experienced New York criminal defense attorney will handle your case and bring the matter to its best possible outcome on your behalf.
If you are charged with vehicular assault or aggravated vehicular assault in Nassau County, Long Island, or in New York City, you must be advised and represented by a Nassau County vehicular assault lawyer, and you must contact that lawyer as quickly as possible.