Factors that Determine a Second-Degree Murder Charge
This is a big question for a lot of people now. The District Attorney's office in Los Angeles now has a policy that if somebody is drinking alcohol and driving and ends up killing another person as an accident result, they will charge that person with a Watson DUI.
They call it a Watson murder because it's no longer a DUI, it's now characterized as a second-degree murder case, and they give that Watson warning in all first-time DUIs.
They tell you that if you drink and drive in the future and end up killing somebody, you could be charged with murder and face 15 to life.
So, often, the way to defend these cases is to show the prosecutors that you don't deserve to be charged with murder, even though you were involved in an accident and somebody was killed, and you were drinking and driving.
There are a whole bunch of other factors that we can look at:
- your age,
- your driving record,
- whether you have any prior DUIs,
- how fast you were gone,
- how dangerous you were driving,
- how high your blood alcohol level was.
There's a whole slew of things that the prosecutors will look at.
They can look at the bad stuff to charge a Watson murder or Watson DUI if you have a prior DUI.
Because they know that you had to take at least a three-month class, sometimes a six-month, a nine-month — but you had to take a class that taught you how dangerous it is to drink alcohol and drive.
Prior DUI Classes
And even after taking that class, you still moved to get into a vehicle after drinking and driving. They don't look at it from your standpoint, which many people say I was drunk. I didn't know. I didn't realize.
The issue is before you start drinking and you put yourself in a position where you were going to have to drive home, that's where you should start thinking about making alternate plans.
This is because I not only risk my own and my passengers' lives, but I risk the lives of other people on the road, and that's really what they're thinking about.
They are protecting society — because there are so many traffic-related fatalities, so many people dying, and the District Attorney's office in LA county feels like when they file these Watson murder cases associated with DUIs, people should know.
They don't need to take a class to know. It's all over the internet. It's in the paper. It's on every piece of advertisement. In the news, they're talking about people dying because other people are drinking and driving and killing them.
Driving in a Reckless Manner Causing an Accident
Another spot where I'm seeing this Watson murder surprisingly filed is when somebody is going fast, even if they don't have any alcohol. If you're driving recklessly, you don't care if anybody dies.
You don't care if you get in an accident. They're going to hold you accountable for that. They're going to charge you with murder. They're even getting Watson murder cases for reckless driving.
Of course, it has to be more than reckless driving. It has to be a wanton disregard for human life, whatever that means. When they're evaluating these cases, many of these juries don't feel sorry for people. You killed somebody.
They're not going to feel sorry for you. So, it's up to your defense attorney defending these cases, first, to get rid of the Watson murder and convince the DA's office they shouldn't have filed it; or convince them not to rub it in the first place.
Negotiation with Prosecutor To Avoid Filing of Murder Charges
If they do file it, you have your work cut out for you because currently, you're negotiating with somebody who knows that they can get you for 15 to life if you go to trial.
That puts them in a pretty powerful negotiation position. Also, sometimes they won't move. Sometimes they want that 15 to life, and now you have to dig your feet in with one of the best attorneys you can find because you're defending your life.
Fifteen to life means fifteen to life, and a lot of times, people don't get out on these life cases.
So, you or a loved one is charged with a Watson DUI murder, and you need help, you've come to the right place. I've been doing this for 26 years. I've handled thousands of DUI cases — many Watson murder cases.
I've had some great success. I know who to talk to. I know what to do. I know how to defend these cases, and I'm one of the best attorneys in Los Angeles.
Pick up the phone. Ask to speak to Ron Hedding. Have a face-to-face with me, and I will do everything to help you or your loved one.
Hedding Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm located in Los Angeles County at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436. Contact us for a free case evaluation at (213) 542-0963.