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When a DUI Case Can be Elevated To a Second Degree Murder?

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding | Feb 13, 2019

This happens a lot in Los Angeles County and throughout the country. A lot of prosecutors are filing DUI cases where death is the result. 

Every single DUI person that goes through LA county that has to plead guilty to a DUI and fill out the waiver form and talk to the judge about it is going to be told on the waiver form and specifically said on the record by the judge that drinking and driving are hazardous to human life. If you drink and drive and get caught for a DUI and somebody dies, you could be charged with murder by the prosecutors.

That's one of the first ways they can get you for a murder charge related to a DUI — if you know of it. In other words, if you have noticed that drinking and driving can kill somebody, and you go out and decide to do it anyway, then that's where you put yourself in a position to be charged with murder potentially.

That's one thing that people don't get. Because people are getting so drunk a lot of times, they don't even know what they're doing, so they didn't intentionally kill anybody, so they can't figure out how they could be charged with murder when they weren't even aware of what was going on.

That's where the problem comes in because they're not going to look at how your mind was operating when you killed somebody in the car when you were drunk.

They're going to look at what you knew beforehand. In other words, they're going to hold you responsible. They're going to say that if you knew you were going out drinking and knew it was dangerous to drink and drive, and you did it anyway and killed somebody, we'd hold you accountable.

Prior DUI Convictions

You can't just say; I was too drunk, I don't' remember, so I shouldn't be responsible for it. As liberal as California is, it certainly is not liberal regarding DUIs. It's very conservative and very, very harsh. I think one of the most powerful states in the nation. It used to be that you had to be explicitly told, if you drink and drive and kill somebody, we're going to charge you with murder.

So, they were getting people for murder cases related to DUIs in LA county when they had prior DUI's because they were told on the record. They were said in DUI classes. You can't drink and drive. You're going to kill somebody. So, then they would use that to get that knowledge factor that I'm talking about.

DUI Murder Charges

But now, things have changed. They don't care about that anymore. They'll undoubtedly use it if they have the information to try and convict you for the DUI murder. Still, even if they don't know that you have a spotless record, and you end up getting a DUI, and you kill somebody, you know what the prosecutor will argue?

Everybody knows that it's dangerous to drink and drive. Everybody knows that you could kill somebody if you drink and drive. So, they don't care whether you have a prior record. They don't care that you were warned before.

The first thing they do now, in this case, is to prove that someone's blood-alcohol level was a .08 or greater, they drove a car and killed somebody, and the accident was their fault; the first thing they do know is they charge you with second-degree murder. Your bail is usually very high — a half a million to a million dollars.

You're usually looking at fifteen to live in prison, and then they negotiate. Sometimes they're willing to give you something less than that second-degree murder charge, and sometimes they're not. And that's the position of strength that the LA county prosecutor's office has decided to come from when it comes to these DUIs where people are getting killed.

You Need An Experienced DUI Lawyer

I've handled a lot of these cases. I've been doing these cases for over twenty-five years now in LA county. I've taken them in every court in the county, so I know how to deal with them.

I know what it takes to get the not guilty verdict if the evidence is there to try to get that. I know what it takes to show that you were not the cause of the death. I know what it takes to mitigate these murder charges down to DUI charges. Hence, murder charges down to DUI charges, so you're better positioned to avoid that very harsh fifteen to life sentence that comes along with a DUI where somebody died. The prosecutors decide to charge you with second-degree murder.

So, pick up the phone now. Make the call. We'll sit down and start to get the plan together to get you or your loved one out of his nightmare situation.

About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding

What Makes Ronald Hedding Uniquely Qualified To Represent You? I've been practicing criminal defense for almost 30 years and have handled thousands of cases, including all types of state and federal sex crime cases. All consultations are discreet and confidential.

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