If someone died in an accident that preceded your arrest in the state of California, you may be very nervous about the possibility of going to jail. However, you can still defend yourself against these charges. In order to come up with an appropriate defense, you must be aware of the penalties you could face, and how the victim’s death affects the proceedings going forward.
Accident Involving a Death
When someone is killed in a car accident in the state of California that involved a drunk driver, the charges are, of course, more severe. You could be charged with one of the following:
- Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated (either a misdemeanor or a felony)
- DUI murder (a felony charge)
- Gross vehicular manslaughter (felony)
Penalties for Fatal Accidents
The possible charges for a DUI involving a death in the state of California carry serious penalties, the least of which being a year in jail. However, these penalties are only a concern if you are convicted. In a DUI case, the prosecution has to prove:
- That you acted with negligence, and that the victim’s death was a direct result of your negligence; and
- That you broke another law in addition to being under the influence, such as speeding; and
- That you were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident, which is legally defined as having a blood alcohol level (BAC) of at least 0.08%.
It is crucial to prove that an accident was truly or an accident and not the result of negligence. For instance, if you pass another driver illegally then hit and kill a pedestrian, this may still be ruled as an accident. Even though you passed the other driver illegally, drivers do this all the time. Negligence occurs when you do something that others would not reasonably do in a similar situation.
These are serious charges, so if you have any doubt about whether the court will believe your innocence, you should strongly consider hiring a DUI lawyer to help you with your case.
“Watson” Murder and Admonition
In the state of California, a person can be charged with a “Watson” murder if he or she has been convicted of a DUI in the past, and is then responsible for a person’s death in another DUI-related accident.
Typically, the only time the prosecution will charge a driver with murder after a DUI in the state of California is if:
- He has at least one prior conviction for driving under the influence.
- He has either attended driving school in the state of California or has been read a “Watson admonition” in the past.
A “Watson admonition” is a type of warning that is read to those who are convicted of a DUI in California. If someone has already received this warning, then he or she is expected to know better than to become involved in a similar accident in the future.
However, a Watson admonition is not a requirement for a prosecutor to charge a person with murder.
Here at Simmrin Law Group, we understand that all is not always as it appears to be. We can evaluate your case and provide you with a strong defense to get you the best outcome possible for your case and help you get your life back.
If the prosecutor believes he can prove that you acted with “implied malice” in an accident that involved a fatality, then he may decide to file murder charges. To prove implied malice, the prosecution must be able to show that you:
- Showed a “wanton disregard” for human life
- That you were well aware of the risks involved with the actions you took, and you acted anyway
There are some situations wherein your odds of being charged with murder are more likely, including:
- Having an exceedingly high BAC (over 0.15% or more)
- Having multiple convictions for DUIs or DWIs
- Engaging in extremely reckless driving, including speeding, racing, and dodging a police officer
Some possible defenses you can use in your case include:
- That you didn’t drive under the influence
- That the accident wasn’t your fault
- That there may have been misconduct on the part of the police and/or the prosecutor
We here at Simmrin Law Group can help you decide on the most appropriate defense after we review the facts of your case.
If You’re Facing a DUI Charge that Resulted in Someone’s Death, Call Us Right Away!
There is no crime more serious than one that involves a person’s death, and no penalties are more severe. This is not the kind of case you should be facing alone. With decades of experience assisting hundreds of clients, we are confident that one of the experienced criminal defense lawyers on our team can help you with your case.
Fill out the form to the right or call us at (310) 997-4688 to speak with one of the members on our team. You will receive a free consultation with no obligation to retain. Don’t face what could be a potential murder charge on your own. Call us today!