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Reckless Homicide

If you have been involved in a South Carolina car accident involving a fatality you may be charged with the Criminal Offense of Reckless Homicide. This is a felony charge that is based when an accident resulting in death occurs as a result of reckless driving. The law is based on S.C. Code § 56-5-2910 and it is prosecuted in the Court of General Sessions by the Solicitor's office. It is punishable by up to ten years imprisonment and a five year driver's license suspension.

What is Reckless Driving?

Reckless is a legal term that is used both in criminal as well as in civil law. Reckless in this context can be defined as either intentionally dangerous driving, or driving which indicates a complete disregard for the safety of other motorists, pedestrians or passengers. Most accidents resulting in a death occur as a result of either an unavoidable collision or simple negligence – meaning that a reckless driving charge under those circumstances is improperly made. The same standard for recklessness used as a basis for the regular Reckless Driving traffic ticket also applies to Reckless Homicide.

Reckless Homicide Defense

At the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC, in Lexington, South Carolina, we represent and defend those charged with Reckless Homicide. Many times those arrested for Reckless Homicide are either young, or have no other significant criminal history. We recognize that many times the police may make an arrest for this offense without sufficient evidence of reckless driving. Police are subject to respond to media coverage, or surviving family member's urging to prosecute. We know that simply because a serious accident occurred does not mean that any law was violated. In fact South Carolina law is clear that "no police officer in investigating a traffic accident shall necessarily deem the fact that an accident has occurred as giving rise to the presumption that a violation of law has occurred." S.C. Code § 56-5-6170.

To begin a defense we carefully interview our client and any other available witnesses to the accident. We make use of experts in accident reconstruction, vehicle crash-worthiness, forensic evidence analysis, forensic pathologists and private investigators in building our client's case. In addition we learn as much as we can about our client's personal background to enable us to demonstrate to the prosecution and police that prison should not be the first, or only option sought for our client.

Examples of Reckless Driving

All Reckless Homicide arrests should be based on reckless driving. This is a much higher standard than simple carelessness or negligence. Simply running a red light or speeding before an accident does not mean that someone is driving recklessly. There are many circumstances which could result in a criminal charge of reckless driving.

Some of these examples include:

  • Speeding through a construction zone
  • Racing another motorist
  • Road rage incidents
  • Attempting to outrun the police
  • Excessive speed
  • Violating multiple traffic laws simultaneously

Reckless Driving and Felony DUI

Reckless Homicide is a different offense from Felony DUI with Death. For Felony DUI you must not only be materially and appreciably impaired (the same standard as in misdemeanor DUI) but also violate another traffic law causing an accident resulting in death. It doesn't matter how minor the other violation was. Reckless Homicide does not require any intoxication, but does require that the driving was reckless.

In some cases those arrested for Felony DUI with Death may be offered a plea bargain to Reckless Homicide. This may be in cases where the evidence collection requirements to support a Felony DUI case were not meet by the police, where the evidence is weak on the driver's impairment or in a case where the prosecutor is willing to forgo the Felony DUI with Death statute's mandatory prison sentence.

Contact a Lexington Reckless Homicide Lawyer Today

If you or a loved one is under investigation after being involved in a serious car accident involving either a fatality or allegations of impairment it is important that you contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. We represent those charged with Reckless Homicide and other driving offenses in Lexington, Columbia and throughout South Carolina.

To schedule your appointment with James Snell contact us at (803) 359-3301.

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