While less serious as vehicular homicide, a conviction for vehicular assault can change your life forever. You may be facing considerable time in prison and a permanent suspension of your driver’s license. These are serious criminal charges, and it’s understandable if you’re feeling overwhelmed and unsure of what to do.
If you’ve been charged with vehicular assault in the Central Ohio area, you need an experienced Columbus traffic attorney on your side. The defense attorneys at Luftman, Heck & Associates can give you aggressive, experienced legal representation to ensure you obtain the best possible result. To set up a free and confidential consultation to discuss your situation and how we can help, call 614-908-4310 or complete our online form.
Vehicular Assault Defined
Vehicular assault in Ohio refers to an offense that is charged when someone causes serious physical harm to another person with a motor vehicle. Similar to vehicular homicide, the term “vehicular assault” can be used generically to include two different offenses: vehicular assault and aggravated vehicular assault.
As you might imagine, aggravated vehicular assault is the more serious crime. The circumstances surrounding the incident will determine whether vehicular assault or aggravated vehicular assault is pursued, but your record could also be a determining factor.
Vehicular Assault – Speeding in a Construction Zone
If you injure someone as a result of speeding in a construction zone, you can be charged with vehicular assault. Vehicular assault is a first-degree misdemeanor. You could face up to six months in jail (with a mandatory minimum of seven days) and a mandatory suspension of your license from one to five years.
However, the offense can be elevated to a fourth-degree felony charge depending on your record and whether you were driving on a suspended license. As a result, the possible penalties become more serious:
- You could receive a prison sentence of up to 18 months, which may be mandatory; and
- Your license may be suspended for two to 10 years.
Vehicular Assault – Reckless Driving or Reckless Operation in a Construction Zone
You can also be charged with vehicular assault if you injure someone with your vehicle while driving recklessly or doing something reckless in a construction zone. These are fourth-degree felony offenses that carry a possible prison term of up to 18 months and a mandatory license suspension of one to five years.
The charges can be elevated to a third-degree felony depending on whether you have prior convictions for related crimes and if you were driving on a suspended license. Again, the penalties can become even more serious:
- You could be facing a mandatory prison term of one to five years; and
- Your license may be suspended for anywhere from two to 10 years.
Aggravated Vehicular Assault
You could be charged with aggravated vehicular assault if you seriously injured another person or their unborn child with your vehicle while you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In Ohio, aggravated vehicular assault is typically a third-degree felony that, if convicted, carries a mandatory prison sentence of one to five years and a mandatory license suspension of two to 10 years.
However, like other vehicular assault charges, penalties for aggravated vehicular assault can increase depending on the circumstances of your case. For example, you may be charged with a second-degree felony for aggravated vehicular assault in the following situations:
- You were driving without a license or on a suspended license;
- You have a prior conviction for vehicular assault;
- You have a prior conviction for any traffic-related homicide, manslaughter, or assault offense;
- If you have three or more DUI/DWI/OVI convictions within the last six years; or
- If you have two or more convictions for felony OVI.
If charged as a second-degree felony, a conviction for aggravated vehicular assault can carry a mandatory prison sentence of two to 10 years.
Aggravated vehicular assault requires knowledge of Ohio’s OVI laws and experience in handling OVI cases. If you’ve been charged with aggravated vehicular assault, you should seek help from an experienced OVI defense attorney.
Elements of Vehicular Assault
To be convicted of vehicular assault, the prosecution must prove that you caused serious physical harm to another person with a vehicle in one of the following ways:
- Driving recklessly;
- By speeding in a construction zone;
- Due to some other recklessness in a construction zone.
Defenses to Vehicular Assault
Car accidents occur every day, and only rarely result in criminal charges. Don’t let the prosecution convince you that their case is ironclad – every case has weaknesses, and vehicular assault cases can be hard to prove.
Here are some ways that an experienced vehicular assault defense attorney can help you avoid conviction:
- You did not do anything “reckless” – Recklessness is often a subjective determination. Your attorney can challenge the charges by identifying facts that contradict the prosecution’s assertion that your behavior was reckless.
- Your actions were not the proximate cause of the injury – Your attorney can challenge the prosecution’s argument that your actions directly harmed someone. For example, you may have been speeding in a construction zone, but the resulting injury was caused by something else.
- You were not driving while under the influence – An experienced OVI defense attorney knows how to challenge an aggravated vehicular assault charge. For example, your attorney may argue that the breathalyzer test was inaccurate because the officer was not properly trained and administered the test wrong.
It’s important to remember that you have options. Depending on your case, you may be able to avoid conviction altogether. If you can’t prevent a conviction, a lesser charge with less severe consequences would be more appropriate.
Contact a Columbus Ohio Vehicular Assault Defense Attorney
Vehicular assault and aggravated vehicular assault are very serious charges that can have harsh penalties. Your future, record, and license may be at stake, but the good news is that you do not have to face these charges alone.
The criminal defense attorneys at Luftman, Heck & Associates provide every client with experienced, highly-skilled legal representation aimed at securing the best outcome possible. Call us today at (614) 820-1564 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with our Columbus vehicular assault attorneys.