Will the Los Angeles County District Attorney's New Policy Help Those Charged with a California DUI-Related Murder Cases?
This is a big question because there are a number of people who get charged with second-degree murder related to DUI accidents and they can't figure out how they could possibly be charged with murder when they, obviously, didn't intentionally kill somebody.
The court basically decided that when you've been put on notice, usually in the Watson case, for example:
- you've got a prior DUI and they tell you how dangerous it is, and
- the classes you have to take, and
- how it's possible to kill somebody if you drink and end up driving later.
Implied Malice in California
So, they basically came up with what they call “implied malice.” They say if:
- you're going to take the risk when you know you can kill somebody, and
- you're going to drink anyway, and
- you know you have to drive and you kill somebody,
- we're going to charge you with murder under the right circumstances,
- where you should know you can kill somebody if you drink and drive and get in an accident.
That's how they imply malice of forethought, which is what is necessary for a murder charge.
Now, of course, the greedy District Attorney's office and judges have now taken that piece of information and now they're charging people with murder cases left and right, even people who have no prior DUIs.
This is because they're making the argument that everybody in society should know that it's dangerous to drink and drive, and if you drink and drive and you kill somebody, we're going to charge you with second degree murder.
Second-Degree Murder Charges Related to DUI
For many years, the LA District Attorney's office would only charge murder related to DUIs if in addition to killing somebody, the person had a prior DUI.
Also, if they could prove that they had been warned about the dangers of drinking alcohol or using drugs and driving.
But over the last few years, they've changed that policy. Now, if you drink and drive or you use drugs and drive and you kill somebody, they're going to charge you with second-degree murder, and then they'll figure out later that maybe a lesser charge is appropriate.
New LA District Attorney Announces Presumption of Probation
The question becomes, how is the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office going to handle that DUI murder situation now with the new DA in place.
Because his policy basically says, for all felony cases in LA, we're going to presume that it's probation.
Deputy in charge of the case, if you want the person to go to prison because you think there's some bad circumstances surrounding the case, you now have to write a memo to our Bureau, who are the powers that be in the DA's office.
You will have to state why and they'll let you know whether or not you can try to get the person for prison.
So, now you've got these cases where people are charged with second-degree murder related to DUI cases in LA and they're asking if they can get probation.
You've got that gap between a case where normally:
- you're going to get 15 to life for the second-degree murder, or
- maybe you can get some tenure sentence, for example, as a negotiated plea.
Avoiding California State Prison Sentences for DUI Murder
So, the issue becomes, how are they going to handle scenarios like that. Is that a scenario if someone dies and it's a murder charge where they're not going to go after that person, or are they going to tap into that area.
That remains to be seen. That's not necessarily the platform that he ran on, but it does seem that sending people to prison for periods of time — either life — they've gotten rid of LWOP, which is life without possibility of parole.
It's something that's on his radar – how all of this will shake itself out, we will see.
The bottom line is, if you or a loved one is charged with a Watson DUI-related murder, pick up the phone. Make the call.
Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. I'm prepared. I'm here to help you. I'm here to protect your rights, your liberty and your reputation.
Hedding Law Firm is a top-ranked criminal defense law firm located at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436.
We serve people is all Southern California courts, including LA County, Orange County, Ventura County, Hollywood, Riverside, and San Bernardino.
Contact us for a free case evaluation at (213) 542-0963.