If someone is charged with something as serious as vehicular homicide in Tennessee, it pays to take the matter seriously by enlisting the aid of experienced legal counsel. Any criminal charge deserves to be met with the most vigorous defense possible. That's particularly true of allegations of vehicular homicide because the penalties in the event of a conviction can be devastating -- even if it's a first-time offense.
While prosecutors may feel pressure to pursue such charges aggressively, defendants do have the benefit of the presumption of innocence on their side. That means that prosecutors must not simply prove the claim, they must prove that impairment by alcohol or drugs was the proximate cause of the accident. That is, it must be shown that it was the primary cause.
That may be the crux of the case for a 20-year-old woman in Eastern Tennessee. She has been charged with vehicular homicide in the death of a retired Tennessee Highway Patrol officer back in June. She pleaded not guilty the charge this week.
The formal charges claim she was driving under the influence at the time and drifted across the center line of the highway. Her vehicle apparently collided head-on with one in which the 62-year-old former patrolman was a passenger. He died hours later.
The court documents don't state what substance, if any, in the system of the young woman led to the charges. Her defense attorney is now in the process of trying to have any blood evidence taken by authorities preserved so his own expert can test it.
Court records show the woman is also accused of reckless aggravated assault against the driver of the other vehicle. He suffered minor injuries in the crash. The charges against her also include five counts of drug possession. All these factors make her case that much more complex, and the need for experienced legal aid that much more important.
Source: Bristol Herald Courier, "Woman pleads 'not guilty' to vehicular homicide," Michael L. Owens, Dec. 13, 2012