Each time you get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, you are accepting responsibility. If you recklessly ignore this responsibility, you can face criminal charges. If you harm another individual due to your disregard for their safety, you could face charges for criminal vehicular operation. Criminal vehicular operation is a serious offense under Minnesota laws. A conviction of this charge can impact your life forever. You could spend years in prison and pay several thousands of dollars in fines. You could lose your job and never be able to work in your field again. The stakes are high. If a prosecutor is filing criminal vehicular operation charges against you, there is no time to waste. You need to secure the legal representation of a seasoned Minneapolis criminal defense attorney right away.
Criminal Vehicular Operation in Minnesota
Under Minnesota Statute 609.2113, you could face charges of criminal vehicular operation if you do one or more of the following while operating a vehicle:
● Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
● Causing an accident and then intentionally leaving the scene of the accident
● Grossly negligent driving of a vehicle
● Driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or higher
● Failing to correct a vehicular defect for which you were issued a warning or a citation, and later causing injury or death to another driver because of the defect
Depending on the situation, criminal vehicular operation may not be the only crime with which you are charged. However, by hiring a skilled Minneapolis criminal defense lawyer, you increase your chances of having the charges dropped or downgraded to a lesser offense.
Injury Classification for Criminal Vehicular Operation
The same Minnesota statute also categorizes non-fatal injuries sustained as a result of the criminal vehicular operation. The category of injuries will determine the severity of the charges. The three categories are:
● Bodily harm— Illness, physical injury or pain, or other physical impairments. A conviction under this category could lead to up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $3,000. This is the only category that is a misdemeanor charge; the rest are felonies.
● Substantial bodily harm— Bodily injury that results in short-term yet considerable impairment or loss of function of any body part, or short-term yet considerable disfigurement. If convicted for causing these types of injuries, penalties could include as many as 3 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
● Great bodily harm— Bodily injury that leaves a high likelihood that the victim sustained a severe permanent disfigurement or bodily impairment, or that the victim will succumb to their injuries. This type of conviction can result in up to 5 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
Fatal Criminal Vehicular Operation
If your actions cause someone to die, either at the scene of the accident or afterward, due to the injuries they sustained, the consequences are much harsher. You could be charged with vehicular homicide and could face a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and a fine of up to $20,000. In addition to prison time and fines, you could also face:
● A loss of driving privileges
● Forfeiture of your vehicle
● Loss of your rights to possess a firearm
● Difficulty getting a job or being granted loans in the future
Keep in mind that, if the person you injure dies because of their injuries at a date after the accident, your charges will likely be upgraded to vehicular homicide.
When an Unborn Child Is a Victim
Minnesota’s criminal vehicular operation laws also apply to unborn babies who are injured or killed because of negligent or reckless driving behaviors. These charges are felonies as well. Causing the death of an unborn child is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $20,000. Injury to the unborn child carries the same fine and a maximum of five years in prison.
Your Trusted Criminal Vehicular Operation Attorneys
If you are facing criminal charges for criminal vehicular operation or vehicular homicide, it is imperative that you pursue the help of a practiced Minneapolis criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Remember that you are innocent until proven guilty. Let us help you prepare to do everything possible to defend your rights and future.
More than 10,000 individuals in Minnesota have sought the services of Gerald Miller, P.A. over the past 30 years. Our firm continues to help those who are facing criminal vehicular operation charges in the Minneapolis area and throughout the state. We are available to help you 24/7. Are you ready to schedule your criminal defense consultation? Contact us online or call 612-440-4608.