It’s one of the scariest feelings imaginable. You wake up in a jail cell with no idea how you got there. The last thing you remember is having a good time at the bar, and now you are wondering what happened to land you in your present predicament. Most of the time you will be told that you were taken in for such things as drunk driving or for being rowdy in a parking lot.

But this time is different; this time you are informed that you are being held on charges of vehicular homicide, also known as death by auto. In New Jersey, vehicular homicide is defined as causing someone’s death due to the reckless operation of an automobile or vessel.

Recklessness involves disregarding serious risk in a manner that is a gross deviation from the way in which a reasonable person would behave in the same set of circumstances. Because it is not considered reasonable or safe to drive while intoxicated, you can be charged with vehicular homicide if a loss of life was caused by your actions.

Vehicular homicide is a second-degree felony, and a conviction can result in steep penalties. You could be sentenced to as much as 10 years in prison, and you will have to serve no less than 85 percent of that time before being eligible for parole. You could also be required to pay as much as $200,000 in fines.

Obviously, vehicular manslaughter charges can seriously impact your life and your future. As such, it is imperative that you begin to form your defense as soon as possible. And the first step in that process can be to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney can work on your behalf in an effort to protect your rights and seek your best possible outcome.