Articles Posted in DUI Manslaughter

Driving Under The Influence And Hit & Run In Orange County

Under California law, anyone who is involved in an accident is required to immediately stop at the scene, provide the other party involved with contact and insurance information, and to assist anyone who may have suffered injures. Failure to do any of these requirements can result in being charged with hit and run. More seriously, being under the influence of alcohol at the time of the hit and run, will result in multiple charges and potentially serious consequences.

DUI at the time of a hit and run usually involves several offenses and may result in one or more of the following charges:

Typically, if you are arrested for driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated, you will be charged with a misdemeanor. However, there are situations that can and will result in a felony DUI. Here are some examples of felony DUI’s:

  1. Fourth or More DUI

A fourth, or more, arrest for DUI, within a ten-year period, will automatically be filed as a felony. A felony is obviously more serious in terms of the consequences but it also has a more serious long-term effect on a person’s life. A conviction for a 4th DUI typically requires jail time. However, depending upon the individual’s circumstances, alternative sentencing may be an option. For someone who has a family and a job, and who may be the sole support of their family, an aggressive DUI defense lawyer is absolutely crucial. Getting creative with the sentencing that will both satisfy the Court and help the individual keep their job, should be the goal of the attorney.

DUI, or driving under the influence, charges are typically charged as misdemeanors. However, some DUI’s can be charged as felonies. The circumstances under which an arrest for DUI may result in a felony filing, may include the following:

1. DUI Manslaughter – This is also referred to as vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated with gross negligence. The penalty, if convicted depends upon the circumstances but can be up to 1 year in county jail, or 4,6 or 10 years in state prison. However, in a situation where someone has one or more prior convictions for driving under the influence or, certain other vehicular felonies, the sentence can be 15 years to life in state prison. DUI manslaughter can also be charged as murder under certain circumstances. Anytime someone is convicted of a dui, the judge will advise the defendant of the dangers of driving under the influence and, caution them that if they do it again and it results in the death of another person, they may be charged with murder.

2. DUI causing serious injury – Someone who drives while intoxicated and who causes injury to another person, is sometimes referred to as a “wobbler” charge. A “wobbler” means that it can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor. However, prosecutors typically pursue the charge that carries the most punishment, but the deciding factor typically depends upon how serious the injuries of the other person are. If the situation is such that a complete dismissal is unattainable, and the case is filed as a felony, the obvious focus is on having the felony reduced to a misdemeanor.

A 17 year old boy has been arrested in Anaheim, California, and is being accused of driving while intoxicated and hitting and killing two homeless women. This young man is facing serious charges that will effect the rest of his life. An aggressive Orange County California criminal defense attorney can mitigate the ultimate outcome to lessen the effect it will have on his life going forward.

In this case, this young man’s sentence exposure depends upon whether he pleads guilty to misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter or felony vehicular manslaughter. Facts that will be taken into consideration are whether or not he has any prior DUI convictions. Prior convictions of DUI can result in a charge of Second Degree Murder due to the fact that the individual knew the dangers of drunk-driving. Another fact to take into consideration is whether or not he committed an additional wrongful act and reckless driving such as speeding and/or running a red light. All of these issues play a role in determining how the case will be filed. Speeding and/or reckless driving can allow the District Attorney to add sentence enhancements to the charges, which makes penalty exposure more serious.

The juvenile justice system is different from the adult justice system. In Orange County Juvenile Court, the focus is on treatment and rehabilitation for the juvenile while the adult justice system focuses on punishment. However, depending upon the charge, a juvenile can be prosecuted as an adult and be subject to the same penalties as an adult. In a situation where a juvenile is tried as an adult, it usually involves crimes of violence. Juveniles 16 or 17, who commit serious felonies, can be tried as an adult. Also, a juvenile 14 or older being charged with murder can be tried as an adult. However, even if a juvenile is tried as an adult, they are still treated different. There are more options in terms of how and where they are prosecuted and how and where they will serve their sentence.

It is extremely important that an experienced Orange County Juvenile Defense Attorney be retained to represent this young man and further that, the attorney be familiar with the Orange County Juvenile Court. Being familiar with the Judges, District Attorneys, Court Clerks and Probation Department, will help facilitate the best possible outcome for your child. The question parents should ask themselves is what do I do to protect my child. Juveniles make mistakes and most have never known, or been exposed to legal consequences. Preserving your child’s record, so that their college goals and future employment are not affected negatively should be the goal of a good juvenile criminal defense attorney.

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A 58 year old Irvine woman has been charged with Vehicular Manslaughter with Gross Negligence in Orange County Superior Court, after an accident she was involved in resulted in the death of a 77 year old woman. According to police reports, the woman was driving with “gross negligence” running a red light, before crashing into the car being driver by the 77 year old woman.
Vehicular Manslaughter defined is basically the crime of causing the death of a human being due to illegal driving of an automobile, including gross negligence, drunk driving, reckless driving, or speeding. Whether a person is charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter or felony vehicular manslaughter depends upon the circumstances of the case.

In California, there are four types of vehicular manslaughter. They are listed here, along with the penalties typically imposed:

PC 191.5: Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, with gross negligence. The penalty can be up to 1 year in county jail, or 4,6 or 10 years state prison. However, one or more priors of this, or certain other vehicular felonies can result in 15 years to life in state prison.
PC 192(c)(1): Vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, without intoxication. The penalty is up to 1 year in county jail, or 2,4, or 6 years in state prison.

PC 192(c)(2): Vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence, without intoxication. The penalty is up to 1 year in county jail.

PC 192(c)(3): Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, without gross negligence. The penalty is up to 1 year in county jail, or 16 months, 2, or 4 years in state prison.

PC 192(c): Vehicular manslaughter is referred to as a “wobbler” meaning that it can be filed either as a misdemeanor or felony, depending upon the circumstances. Vehicular manslaughter acts, not involving drugs or alcohol, that may be punishable are: 1) Driving in an unlawful way; 2) Driving in a lawful but dangerous way, and 3) Knowingly causing an accident for financial gain. Here are some examples of these three acts: If a person kills another person while they speeding; texting or talking on a cell phone; hitting and killing a pedestrian in a crosswalk; and staging an accident that results in an unintentional death.

Because this is such a serious issue, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights. With proper, experienced legal representation, it may be possible to get the charges reduced, avoiding jail or prison, or dismissed all together.

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A 28-year-old man has been charged with felony vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated, and two felony counts of DUI, after losing control and crashing his truck head-on into a concrete bridge abutment in Santa Ana. His friend, who was a passenger in his vehicle, died in the accident. He is also facing sentence enhancements because he has a prior conviction for driving under the influence.

Vehicular Manslaughter, while intoxicated, is a felony punishable up to 10 years in State Prison. However, in certain circumstance, the punishment can be more severe. In California, we have what is known as DUI Sentence Enhancements. This means that a sentence can be increased, depending upon the enhancement(s). Sentence enhancements in DUI cases include, prior convictions, a blood alcohol level of .15 or higher, test refusal and speeding and/or reckless driving.

The crime of Felony DUI falls into three categories: vehicular homicide, manslaughter or second-degree murder. Vehicular homicide is charged when, as a result of ordinary negligence, a death occurs. Manslaughter with gross negligence is charged when the death is the result of criminal negligence. Criminal negligence, as it relates to drunk driving basically means that the individual had the knowledge that their actions were likely to result in death. Second-degree murder can be charged when there is a death and the person who was drinking and driving acted with “implied malice” or a conscious disregard for life. Second-degree murder is not usually charged in a DUI / DWI case because it is difficult to establish implied malice.

However, if the person has prior DUI convictions, the prosecution can use this to establish that the defendant knew the dangers of drunk driving. In Orange County, when a person pleads guilty to DUI, they must admit in court or in writing, that they understand the dangers of drunk driving, this is known as a “Watson Warning“. The prosecution can use this as evidence if they decide to prosecute for second-degree murder.

Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, with gross negligence can result in the following penalties: UP to 1 year in county jail, or 4,6, or 10 years in state prison. However, with one or more priors, it can be 15 years to life in state prison.

Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, without gross negligence caries the penalties of up to 1 year in county jail, or 16 months, 2 or 4 years in state prison.

Fortunately, there are defenses to Felony DUI, or Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated. In this situation, a good Orange County DUI Attorney should look at the possible defenses to vehicular manslaughter. Challenging the validity of the breath or blood test results, as well as challenging police procedures and/or misconduct must always be looked at. Some other defenses to Vehicular Manslaughter while Intoxicated include: Rather than gross negligence, that the defendant acted with regular negligence; that the negligence what not what caused the death. That the acts of another person or forces beyond your control such as road conditions or weather were the cause of the accident and/or death. Accident Reconstruction Experts are often used when this type of defense is being offered.

A conviction for Felony DUI can carry long lasting effects on a person’s life and for that reason, it is important for anyone facing this type of conviction, to have experienced legal representation. A good Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney, who has expertise in DUI arrests, will make every effort to have the charges reduced. A key factor in choosing a DUI attorney in Orange County, is to look for an attorney who is familiar with the Court in which the case is pending, as well as the other Courts in Orange County. A good relationship with the Judges, District Attorneys, Court Clerks and other personnel can influence a positive outcome and ensure that you get the best possible result.

Anyone who has been arrested for Felony DUI, Driving Under the Influence or Drunk Driving, needs an attorney who is skilled and will gather the appropriate evidence, know how to use it intelligently and efficiently, and render the best possible outcome for their client.

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A 29 year old Santa Ana man was convicted of vehicular manslaughter after an accident he caused resulted in the death of another Orange County man. The 29 year old man, who has a prior DUI conviction, was intoxicated when his vehicle ran out of gas on the freeway, causing a three-car collision. His blood alcohol level was 0.20, approximately two hours after the accident, which is about two and a half times the legal limit.

Vehicular Manslaughter, while intoxicated, is a felony punishable up to 10 years in State Prison. However, this Orange County man received the more severe sentence of 13 years in State Prison due to some specific circumstances. In California, we have what is known as DUI Sentence Enhancements. This means that his sentence will be increased, depending upon the enchancement(s). Sentence enhancements in DUI cases include, prior convictions, a blood alcohol level of .15 or higher, test refusal and speeding and/or reckless dirving. In this case, the defendant had a prior conviction of DUI, a blood alcohol of .20 and what may have been considered reckless driving for allowing his vehicle to run out of gas in the middle of the freeway. Therefore, enhancements were imposed.

Fortunately, there are defenses to Felony DUI, or Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated. In this situation, a good Orange County DUI Attorney should have looked at the possible defenses to vehicular manslaughter. Challenging the validity of the breath or blood test results, as well as challenging police procedures and/or misconduct must always be looked at. Some other defenses to Vehicular Manslaughter while Intoxicated include: Rather than gross negligence, that the defendant acted with regular negligence; That the negligence what not wat caused the death. That the acts of another person or forces beyond your control such as road conditions or weather were the cause of the accident and/or death. Accident Reconstruction Experts are often used when this type of defense is being offered.

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The family and friends of Nick Adenhart will have to wait a bit longer to see if the DUI murder trial of Andrew Gallo, charged in the death of the Angels pitcher, will take place in Orange County or elsewhere.

Gallo’s attorney was allowed to substitute in on his case, even though the Public Defender’s office had done massive amounts of work on his behalf, and even though Gallo’s new attorney didn’t have the resources to research, write, file and argue all the motions a case of this caliber would require. Apparently, the court considered whether to relieve the PD completely, or direct it to continue its representation regarding various motions relative to the case.

In any event, the matter isn’t settled for now, since the court continued the motion to a future date. This story points to an ongoing challenge for the private Orange County criminal defense bar. Should you accept a client’s case, knowing that your ability to represent that person may be limited, based upon your own experience, staffing and the client’s financial resources?

Whether your matter is in Westminster, Santa Ana, Irvine or Newport Beach, make sure you consult and retain a qualified Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney to assist you with a DUI murder or DUI manslaughter matter.

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While this story doesn’t involve alcohol, it does involve speed and recklessness, two components of death and injury in the DUI arena.

A 27 year-old saleswoman was out on a test drive a few days ago. Perhaps she was showing off. In any event, Amy Thomas lost control of a 2003 Corvette, spun the car across the roadway on Mill Creek Lane in Laguna Hills, wrapping the car around a tree and killing her.

Her passenger survived. This story is a sobering reminder that most of us cannot handle the limits of the cars we’re driving and have to be extra careful around the streets of Orange County. Add the effects of alcohol into this story and perhaps more people could have lost their lives.

If you drink too much and want to get home, call a cab. Do not drive. Had this woman killed someone, instead of herself she could have faced life in prison. Whether you live in Newport Beach, Lake Forest or Anaheim Hills, if you are charged with a DUI, call an experienced DUI defense attorney to assist you.

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An Orange County prosecutor told a jury yesterday that Brittany Schuetz ignored her friends warnings not to drink and drive when she got into her car and later crashed into the car of April Whang, killing her instantly.

Schuetz had been drinking at a house party in Sherman Oaks and was returned to her car here in Orange County. Likely due to her intoxicated state, Scheutz declined her friends’ pleas to wait until she was sober. Alcohol intoxication, as it increases, eliminates our inhibitions, those red flags in the brain when we’re sober, that tell us not to do things that are dangerous.

That is why DUI murder charges are so tricky. The District Attorney argues that to blow off the warnings is a form of malice, a very high degree of recklessness that amounts to intent. But with the blood-alcohol level in her system, it was very likely she couldn’t have formed such intent, couldn’t have been able to consider the consequences of her actions. That is why the facts of the case suggest DUI manslaughter instead. Recklessness that doesn’t rise to the level of intent to kill. The jury will decide.

Whether you live in Santa Ana, Irvine or Newport Beach, if you are charged with DUI manslaughter, call an experienced DUI defense attorney to assist you.

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