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 they end up killing another person as an accident result, they're going to charge that person with a Watson DUI.
They really 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 DUI's.
They tell you that if you drink and drive in the future and you end up killing somebody, you could be charged with murder and be facing 15 to life.
Factors that Determine a Second-Degree Murder Charge
So, a lot of times, the way to defend these cases is to show the prosecutors that you really 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's 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 go,
- how dangerous you were driving,
- how high your blood alcohol level was.
There's a whole slew of things that the prosecutors are going to look at.
Obviously, the bad stuff that they can look at for purposes of charging a Watson murder or Watson DUI is 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 made the move of getting into a vehicle after you drank and drive. They don't really look at it from your standpoint, which a lot of people say I was really drunk. I didn't know. I didn't realize.
The issue is, before you started 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 passenger's 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's so many traffic related fatalities, so many people dying, and the District Attorney's office in LA county really feels like when the 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 who are 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 these Watson murder surprisingly filed is when somebody is going really fast, even if they don't have any alcohol. If you're driving in a wanton, reckless manner, you don't really 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. A lot of these juries, when they're evaluating these cases, the 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 when we are defending these cases, first to try to get rid of the Watson murder and convince the DA's office they shouldn't have filed it; or convince them not to file it in the first place.
Negotiation with Prosecutor To Avoid Filing of Murder Charges
If they do file it, now you have your work cut out for you because now you're negotiating with somebody who know 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 I can 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.