Watson Murder (DUI Murder)
Los Angeles DUI Defense Lawyers
When it comes to driving under the influence (DUI), California has numerous laws that prosecutors may cite when charging drivers with a criminal offense. These charges can range from standard first-time misdemeanor DUIs to the most serious felony level offenses – and they each carry their own set of penalties and unique consequences that can jeopardize your future in the short- and long-term. Although any DUI charge comes with repercussions, none are as serious as Watson Murder.
Also referred to as DUI murder, Watson murder is a unique California crime prosecutors may utilize when prosecuting drivers suspected of causing a fatal accident while driving under the influence of alcohol and / or drugs. As the most severe and harshly punished DUI offense you can face in California, Watson murder poses life-altering penalties – including the prospect of life in prison. As such, this allegation demands the immediate attention of proven DUI defense lawyers.
Over the years, our firm has earned a reputation as skilled and aggressive criminal defense attorneys. Led by a Board Certified Criminal Trial Law Specialist (Attorney Jeremy Lessem) and attorneys with decades of combined experience, we’re prepared to handle even the most challenging cases.
Discuss your case and defense today when you contact us for a free consultation.
What is DUI Watson Murder?
Watson murder is a criminal offense unique to California law, and it applies only to cases where individuals have been arrested under suspicion of causing another person’s death while driving under the influence. While California does have other charges individuals in this situation can face – including vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated or gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated – Watson murder is distinctly different because it involving motorists who cause fatal DUI accidents after having previously been convicted of a DUI in the past.
Under California law, prosecutors may choose to file Watson murder charges (a form of second-degree murder prosecuted under the state’s PC 187 murder law) rather than other felony DUI charges when a motorist has been convicted of DUI, or a similar offense (i.e. wet reckless). Prosecutors have this discretion because all individuals convicted of DUI in California are given a “Watson Advisement” at the time of DUI sentencing, or are educated about the advisement when they take and complete a DUI education program.
Named after a defendant in a landmark California Supreme Court case (People v. Watson), this advisement (or “admonition”) generally informs convicted drivers that they know and understand the dangers and consequences of impaired driving, and that they can be charged with murder if they choose to drive impaired again and cause death. However, California law also allows prosecutors to file Watson murder charges even if a motorist was never given a prior Watson admonition, provided that their conduct rises to the standard of “implied malice,” or conduct that shows a “wanton disregard” for the lives of others, or that the driver was aware of the risks created by their conduct. There are also certain factors that may make it more likely for prosecutors to pursue this enhanced allegation, such as very high BAC levels, multiple DUI convictions (i.e. two, three, or more prior convictions), reckless driving, and more.
Watson Murder Penalties
As the most serious DUI charge one can face, Watson murder carries life-altering penalties, including:
- 15 year to life in prison;
- Fines up to $10,000;
- A “strike” offense (under California’s “Three Strikes” law)
Because these penalties are so extreme, it becomes critical for accused individuals to work with experienced defense attorneys who can help them explore available options for a positive outcome. This may involve challenging the facts of case, any evidence (including chemical tests), and whether or not driver’s acted with “implied malice,” among others. The goal in these cases, aside from a dismissal, is often to seek reductions in charges and penalties, and to specifically shield defendants from the prospect of a 15 to life prison sentence.
Why Choose Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP?
At Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP, our legal team has a proven record defending clients throughout Los Angeles County, Ventura County, and the surrounding jursidications of Southern California following serious felony charges. If you or someone you love has been charged with Watson murder, you can feel confident about trusting our team to fight for your rights, freedom, and future. Here are a few reasons why clients choose us to handle such high stakes matters:
- Award-Winning Lawyers Backed by Decades of Collective Experience
- Hundreds of Criminal Case Dismissals and Jury Trials Handled
- Proven Record in Tough Cases, Including DUI Cases
- Thousands of Cases Handled In & Out of Court
Call 24/7 to Request a FREE & Confidential Consultation
Watson Murder allegations, or any charge involving an enhanced DUI charge, demands immediate counsel and representation. At Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP, our legal team is available 24/7 to take your call, discuss the charges and penalties at stake in your case, and explain how we can work to protect your rights and future. Call (800) 462-7160 or contact us online to request a free initial consultation.
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