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Predicate offense for vehicular homicide in first degree

To find the defendant guilty of first-degree vehicular homicide of state must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt one of the following predicate felony offense.

Driving a vehicle meeting or overtaking a school bus

OCGA 40-6-163 provides the following

  • except as provided in subsection B of this code section, the driver of a vehicle meeting or overtaking from either direction any school bus stopped on a highway shall stop before reaching such school bus when there are in operation on the school bus the visual signals as specified in code section 40-8-111 and 40-8-115, and such driver shall not proceed until school bus resumes motion or the visual signals are no longer actuated.
  • The driver of a vehicle upon a highway with separate roadway need not stop upon meeting or passing a school bus which is on a different roadway, or upon a controlled access highway when the school bus is stopped at a loading zone which is a part of or adjacent to such highway and where pedestrians are not permitted to cross the roadway.
  • Every school bus driver who observes a violation of subsection a of this code section is authorized and directed to record specifically the vehicle description, license number of the offending vehicle, and time and place of occurrence on forms furnished by the Department of Public Safety. Such report shall be submitted within 15 days of the occurrence of the violation to local law enforcement agency that has law-enforcement jurisdiction where the alleged offense occurred.

OCGA 40-6-278 provides:

  • the driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury or death of any person or in damage to a vehicle which is driven or attended by any person shall immediately stop such vehicle at the scene of the accident or shall stop as close thereto as possible and forth with return the scene of the accident and shall:
  • give his or her name and address and the registration number of the vehicle he or she is driving,
  • upon request and if it is available, exhibit his or her operator's license to the person struck or the driver occupant of or person attending any vehicle collided with,
  • render to any person injured in such accident reasonable assistance, including the transporting, or the making of arrangements for the transporting, of such person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent that such treatment is necessary where such transporting its request by the injured person and
  • where a person injured in such accident is unconscious, appears deceased, or is otherwise unable to communicate, make every reasonable effort to ensure emergency medical services and local law enforcement are contacted for the purpose of reporting the accident and making a request for assistance.
  • Georgia case law is liberally construed the law to support a criminal action being maintained under this code section. For example, involved in an accident has been expansively interpreted to include situations where the defendant's car did not physically touch the other persons vehicle. Bellamy v. Edwards, 181 Ga. App. 887, 354 S.E.2d 434 (1987). Furthermore convictions can be sustained on purely circumstantial evidence. A defendant's claim to have not been the driver of the hit-and-run vehicle can be rejected as not being credible, despite no one having identified the driver by eyewitness identification. Circumstantial evidence of his ownership of the vehicle, coupled with a friend's testimony that he had been driving the car earlier that day were sufficient to support his conviction Jackson v. State 258 Ga. App. 806 (2002). The State must prove that defendant's failure to stop and render assistance caused the victim's death. Thus where the driver continued home to call an ambulance to come to assist the victim, the state must prove that leaving the scene caused the death. Collins v. State 172 Ga. App. 100 (1984). In Collins v. State 172 Ga. App. 100 (1984) the defendant struck the victim from behind as she was walking alongside a road. The defendant did not stop and render aid but instead drove home where he anonymously called an ambulance service to report the location of the victim. The defendant was indicted and convicted of vehicular homicide and first-degree , for failing to stop and render aid OCGA 40-6-270. The attending physician testified that the victim's condition had actually improved somewhat during the 1st 24 hours in the hospital further, an ambulance attendant who assisted the victim at the scene testified that because of the injuries involved, the patient should not have been moved by anyone except medical personnel trained to move this type of patient. The Court of Appeals reversed the conviction, holding the evidence was insufficient to authorize a jury to conclude that the defendant's failure to stop and render aid caused the victim's death. In Klaub v. State 255 Ga. App. 40 (2002), the defendant argues that the trial court erred in failing to direct a verdict of acquittal as to the charge of vehicular homicide and first-degree because the State cannot prove that the predicate offense, failure to stop and render aid, was a proximate cause of the death of the victim because the undisputed evidence in the case had shown that the victim died within minutes of being struck. The 2007, the Court of Appeals overruled Klaub with its holding in Henry v. State, 284 Ga. App. 893 (2007). The Court of Appeals reversed defendant's conviction for vehicular homicide in the first-degree which was predicated on a violation of the hit-and-run statute, specifically, that defendant's failure to remain at the scene of accident contributed to the death of victim. In this case the court held that the State had failed to prove a causal connection between the felony hit-and-run in the victim's subsequent death.Contact a Paulding county criminal defense lawyer today.