Document Type

Case Summary

Publication Date



The Court considered constitutional challenges to NRS 484B.657(1), which provides that a defendant is guilty of vehicular manslaughter if “while driving or in actual physical control of any vehicle, [the defendant] proximately causes the death of another person through an act or omission that constitutes simple negligence.” Petitioner Mary Lou Cornella (“Cornella”) challenged the phrases “an act or omission” and “simple negligence” as unconstitutionally void for vagueness. Additionally, Cornella challenged that a showing of “simple negligence”, rather than criminal intent, violates her right to due process. The Court held that so long as “an act or omission”, as used in NRS 484B.657(1), is read to require an unlawful act or omission, like a traffic violation, and “simple negligence”, as used in NRS 484B.657(1), is read as ordinary negligence, the terms are not unconstitutionally vague. Further, vehicular manslaughter closely resembles a traditional public welfare offense, and thus does not violate due process even without a criminal intent requirement. The district court, however, erroneously upheld the constitutionality of NRS 484B.657(1) without interpreting the phrase “act or omission” so the Court directed the district court to reconsider Cornella’s direct appeal.