Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated
DUI Attorneys Serving Southern California
Most driving under the influence (DUI) charges in California are prosecuted as misdemeanors. Although misdemeanor convictions can still result in serious penalties, adverse driver’s license repercussions, and other long-term consequences, those penalties can be made even more severe when motorists are charged with felony DUI. In California, one of the most serious felony DUI charges you can face is vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.
If you or someone you love has been charged with DUI involving an accident that resulted in the death of another, you must understand that this charge poses life-altering penalties, including significant terms of incarceration in a state prison. At Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP, our Los Angeles DUI lawyers are immediately available to help clients and their families after being charged with vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, and can use our decades of collective experience to protect your rights and future throughout the entire process.
Why Choose Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP
- Over 50 Years of Combined Experience
- Led by a Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist (Jeremy Lessem)
- Proven Record of Success in Criminal Defense Cases
- Personalized Service & Comprehensive Representation
DUI Causing Death
California has several laws related to drivers who cause fatal accidents, including both DUI-related charges and charges that do not require the government to prove a motorist was intoxicated. Below, we provide a description of these various charges:
- Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated – California PC 191.5(b) makes it a felony offense to cause death while driving under the influence of alcohol and / or drugs and engaging in some type of negligent behavior, such as speeding or using a cell phone at the time. This particular charge can be either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the facts involved, and can post either a 1-year sentence in a County jail, or 16 months / 2 – 4 years in a state prison.
- Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated – PC 191.5(a) is an elevated vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated charge, and it involves “gross negligence.” As defined by state law, gross negligence involves acting recklessly in a manner that significantly increased risks of injury or death and in a manner that any reasonable person would have known creates substantial risks to others. An example would include driving substantially over the posted speed limit (i.e. 40 mph over).
- Watson Murder – Also known as DUI murder, California has a unique law that can result in felony Watson murder charges (prosecuted under the state’s PC 187 murder law) when a motorist drives under the influence of alcohol and / or drugs and has previously been convicted of a DUI offense in the past. This is because individuals convicted of a DUI in California are given a Watson advisement warning them about the serious dangers of DUI, and that they can face murder charged if they drive under the influence again and cause death. As the most serious DUI charge one can face, Watson murder is punishable by 15 years to life in prison.
- Vehicular Manslaughter – Many people are unaware that California has a distinct and separate charge for causing fatal accidents. “Vehicular manslaughter” and “Vehicular Manslaughter with Gross Negligence,” under state law, applies to cases where motorists cause death as a result of negligent acts, such as driving distracted or driving recklessly. It does not involve driver impairment, but may be a charge that DUI suspects can plea down to, depending on the circumstances.
Defending Your Rights, Freedom & Future
Working with a proven criminal defense lawyer like those at Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP is crucial after any DUI allegation involving death. Because there are serious and life-changing penalties on the line, structuring your defense should begin as soon as possible. With ample time, our attorneys can conduct the appropriate investigations into your arrest and determine the most appropriate defense strategy for the best possible resolution – whether that means challenging an officer’s probable cause, arguing the result of any chemical tests, or seeking reduced charges and penalties, including reductions from Watson murder or gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicate to a lesser vehicular manslaughter charge.
Because every case is unique, your defense is highly dependent on what led to and happened during your accident and arrest. To discuss how our award-winning defense attorneys can help you anywhere throughout Los Angeles or Southern California, contact us for a free and confidential consultation today.
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