s318 Culpable Driving

Culpable Driving –  if you have been charged with culpable driving causing death then you need to find a law firm with experience in handling these types of cases.

Dribbin & Brown Criminal Lawyers have offices in the Melbourne CBD, Dandenong, Moorabbin, Frankston, Geelong, Ballarat and Ringwood. Our team of lawyers have a wealth of experience running culpable driving jury trials and can assist you if you are facing Court.

The Offence

s318 of the Crimes Act states that if the prosecution can prove beyond reasonable doubt that:

  • You were driving a vehicle;
  • Your driving was culpable; and
  • The culpable driving caused the death of another

then you will be found guilty of culpable driving causing death.

The maximum penalty

If found guilty the maximum penalty is 20 years in prison. First offenders, depending on the circumstances, might expect 5 – 9 years imprisonment if found guilty in relation to culpable driving causing death.

Where will my case be heard?

The charge must be heard in either the County or Supreme Court. If proceeding with a not guilty plea, the matter must be heard before a jury containing 12 members of the public.

Questions to consider

How are the prosecution claiming that you were culpable?

  • Were you affected by drugs or alcohol to the extent you could not have proper control of the motor vehicle?
  • Were you reckless?
  • Were you criminally negligent?

The prosecution must specify in the materials how they are putting their case. The most crucial aspect of these cases – and all jury trials – is extensive preparation.

Why is preparation important?

After considering the materials and taking instructions, the first question to consider is whether you have a defence. The best option may be to offer to accept an alternative charge of dangerous driving causing death. There are cases where defendants have not immediately been imprisoned in relation to this lesser charge.

One thing you should never do is run a trial you cannot win. The outcome will be worse, it will be expensive and ultimately is not in your best interests.

If we determine that you have a defence then it must be considered at an early stage. Whenever you run a criminal defence, particularly in relation to culpable driving, it is preferable to have witnesses and documents to support that defence. The more evidence you have to support your case the more likely you are to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that you are not guilty .

Materials that may be required:

  • Expert report in relation to the car you were driving. i.e. you are a truck driver and the poor truck maintenance was the cause of the accident.
  • Expert report in relation to other vehicles. i.e. another motorist did something that was unexpected, causing the accident. That is born out by a defence analysis of the offending vehicle.
  • Expert report to provide contrary evidence to the prosecution expert.
  • Research into the area of the collision. Have there been other accidents in the same area with a similar outcome?
  • Are there witnesses who were not provided in the initial brief of evidence and who may support your assertion that your were not culpable in your driving?
  • Does the prosecution have other materials in their possession that may exonerate you, but have not been revealed after initial disclosure?

The list is endless and is dependent on each case.

You need to come to a law firm accredited by the Law Institute of Victoria as being criminal law specialists. You need to come to a law firm that has run and won numerous jury trials. And you need to come to a criminal law firm that is committed to getting you the best possible outcome.

If you have been charged with culpable driving please don’t hesitate. Call Dribbin & Brown Traffic Lawyers Melbourne today.