Culpable Driving Lawyers in Melbourne - Law Firms For Driving Offences
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Have you been accused of or charged with culpable driving? Our criminal defence lawyers are here to help!
We understand that this is an extremely emotional experience for yourself and the people you love, which is why we aim to make the process as simple and painless as possible. Our traffic lawyers have helped countless clients over the years with culpable driving charges and other traffic offences, meaning we are intimately familiar with the court system and how to protect your best interests. Our lawyers will consider all the circumstances of your case and ensure that your voice is always represented in all legal proceedings.
Need legal advice now? Call 03 8590 8370 to book your free consultation with a culpable driving lawyers in Melbourne today!
What is culpable driving?
Culpable driving causing death, as outlined in Section 318 of the Crimes Act 1958, refers to “any person who by the culpable driving of a motor vehicle causes the death of another person.”
According to the legislation, to be charged with driving a motor vehicle culpably one must drive:
(a) recklessly, that is to say, if he consciously and unjustifiably disregards a substantial risk that the death of another person or the infliction of grievous bodily harm upon another person may result from his driving; or
(b) negligently, that is to say, if he fails unjustifiably and to a gross degree to observe the standard of care which a reasonable man would have observed in all the circumstances of the case; or
(c) whilst under the influence of alcohol to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of the motor vehicle; or
(d) whilst under the influence of a drug to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of the motor vehicle.
With this charge, intent is not a main factor. For example, a person can still be charged with culpable driving if the crash occurred as a result of falling asleep if they chose to operate the vehicle while fatigued.
Is a culpable driving offence serious?
Culpable driving causing death is considered one of the most serious driving offences in Victoria and can carry a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment and fines if you are found guilty. In some cases, you may be able to lower your sentence to dangerous driving causing death or serious injury, which carries half the maximum penalty (10 years imprisonment).
Where will my case be heard?
As culpable driving is a serious indictable offence, your case will be heard in either the County Court or Supreme Court. Before your court date, it is crucial that you seek legal advice and representation.
Do I have a legal defence?
Some defences you may wish to use include:
- Losing control of the vehicle occurred due to a fault with the brakes, steering or another part
- The other party (vehicle or pedestrian) did something unexpected or reckless that caused the incident
- The area where the incident occurred may be prone to accidents
- Driving recklessly due to an emergency or other necessity
Each case has different circumstances, which is why our lawyers explore all the details of your case to construct the most suitable defence. To be found guilty, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- The accused person was the driver of the vehicle
- They were driving culpably
- Their driving caused the victim’s death
If the prosecution cannot prove that the accused person engaged in reckless conduct or criminally negligent driving, or the crime is less serious, the court may downgrade a culpable driving charge to dangerous driving. You may also be charged with dangerous driving if the incident only resulted in serious injury.
Should I plead guilty?
As this is a serious traffic offence, you may be hesitant to plead guilty. However, in certain circumstances, this may be advised in order to achieve a lighter sentence and/or avoid a costly court battle.
We will always be honest with you about our assessment of your case and will recommend the best path forward. Whatever pleading guilty or not guilty, we will fight to get you the best outcome possible.
Need expert criminal law advice? We can assist with any criminal or traffic law offence under the Crimes or Road Safety Act. Regularly appearing in the Magistrates Court and County Court, we have extensive experience with jury trials and will be able to act as your trusted legal representative.