DUI Death Defense Attorney in Los Angeles
DUIs involving death is tragic and taken seriously by Los Angeles County prosecutors, and you must be ready to defend yourself. Simply put, when a DUI causes death in California, the case becomes much more severe with potentially harsh consequences.
Suppose you are involved in an accident involving the death of another person while you were driving while intoxicated and have no prior DUI convictions on your record.
In that case, you will most likely be charged with either Penal Code 191.5(b) PC vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated or Penal Code 191.5(a) PC gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.
If you have a prior DUI conviction and killed someone in an accident where you were intoxicated, you will be charged with a Penal Code 187 PC Watson DUI murder. This is a second-degree murder charge.
Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is a wobbler that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and DUI murder are felonies.
You need to understand each charge and how it can impact your life. You must also know how to defend yourself in court to obtain the best possible outcome. Let's review these state laws in more detail below.
Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated – PC 191.5(b)
Suppose you have never had a prior DUI conviction, and somebody is killed in an accident where you were driving under the influence of alcohol. In that case, you may be charged with vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.
This is a standard charge filed by prosecutors when a death occurs due to alcohol in an accident.
However, they have to prove that you did something other than driving under the influence that showed other negligence, such as sending a text while driving or committing a traffic violation. A misdemeanor conviction will result in up to a year in jail, plus a fine of $1,000 plus all the additional penalties of a California DUI.
Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated - PC 191.5(a)
Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is more severe than vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. It's typically filed as a felony as it means you did something reckless along with driving while intoxicated that any average person would understand that the consequences could be deadly.
If you are convicted of this felony charge, you could face four or more years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
Why Are Some DUI Deaths Filed as Murder?
If you or a loved one is being charged with murder related to a DUI death in Los Angeles County, you're not alone. Many people get accused of this crime after getting involved in a bad accident, and somebody passes away.
There are several different factors that the district attorney's office in LA County is looking at when deciding whether or not to charge someone with murder versus vehicular manslaughter, depending on the circumstances of what happened.
But, you can bet if you or a loved one was driving a motor vehicle, and you were intoxicated in any way – whether it be on alcohol or drugs or something else- it affected your ability to operate that motor vehicle safely.
As a result, you get involved in an accident or hit a pedestrian. Somebody passed away; there's a good chance you'll be charged with murder.
That's because the district attorney’s office has decided that most people know that if you drink and drive or take drugs and drive, there's a good chance somebody could die.
What is Implied Malice Murder?
It's foreseeable; therefore, they feel they can meet the elements of an implied malice murder.
What that means is, usually, when we have a murder case in LA county, somebody plans and intends to kill another person. Hence, the question becomes, in a DUI situation where someone gets involved in an accident, how could that person be charged with murder? They didn't plan to kill anybody.
What the law is doing is, it is implying malice. It's telling that you knew it was dangerous, and you still drank, knowing you would put yourself in a position where you would get on the road and be intoxicated. As a result, you could potentially get in an accident, which could be fatal.
This is especially true in Los Angeles County, with so many people on the road and many different scenarios that can occur when you drink and drive or take drugs and drive or mix.
So, that's where we're seeing these murder cases being filed, especially when people are using intoxicants and then killing other people.
We're even seeing these cases being filed where there's no alcohol or no drugs involved, and the person is just driving recklessly, and they still are applying malice.
They're stretching the bounds of what should be lawful when discussing murder versus vehicular manslaughter. Still, they can do it because people are so upset that somebody killed another person that they're willing to read the law and look at it in a light favorable to the prosecutors.
Why Do You Need An Experienced Defense Lawyer?
That's why, in my opinion, it's so important to get an attorney that's got experience in this area. I've been doing this for over 30 years, defending people.
I've seen the snippet of law relating to DUIs and murder change drastically from when I started in the early 1990s to today, so I know what it takes to fight these cases.
I know how to win the murder charges and even convince the prosecutors to get rid of the murder charges once they're filed and negotiate for something less if you are guilty of doing something dangerous on the road and a death results.
So, if you need the best, and all the marbles are on the line, and I think if you or a loved one is charged with murder, they are on the line.
So, pick up the phone now. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. I've worked for the District Attorney's office in LA County; I've worked for a Superior Court Judge; I've worked for the State Bar; and I've been working for people just like you or your loved one since the early 1990s, fighting for your rights.
So, if you need the best, pick up the phone now. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. I stand at the ready to help you. The Hedding Law Firm is located in Los Angeles, CA.