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Practices > Riverside and Orange County DUI Lawyers > DUI Related Vehicular Manslaughter

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When an accident has occurred and as a result, a person involved in that accident dies, there is usually an extensive investigation that is performed to determine the cause of the accident and subsequently, a person’s death. If the investigating officers determine that alcohol was involved, they will usually arrest the person suspected to be driving under the influence for vehicular manslaughter whether or not he/she was the direct cause of the accident itself. Vehicular manslaughter is a “wobbler” crime, meaning it can be charged by the D.A.’s office as either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding the original accident.

If the vehicular manslaughter is determined to have been caused with gross negligence (when one is considered to have been driving without caution and concern for the safety of others) can only be charged as a felony. But a charge of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence can not be alleged solely due to the fact that a person was driving under the influence of alcohol. Other facts must be present, such as the commission of other moving violations and/or ignoring the advice of others not to drive. Felony vehicular manslaughter is a very serious offense and can carry penalties including state prison time. Thus, it is important to obtain private counsel that is knowledgeable and experienced in these areas of the law. The attorneys at WILL & WILL, LLP have handled many vehicular manslaughter cases and are skilled in defending against them.

An experienced and knowledgeable defense attorney should be brought into the case immediately. It is imperative that additional investigative work be done to assess what really happened. Often the events happened so fast, no one is ever really 100% sure of who was at fault. Thus, it is important that your defense team bring on a team of investigators and toxicologists to do an independent toxicology analysis, a proper accident reconstruction, and re-interview all witnesses. It is always best to start this process as soon as possible and while the evidence is still fresh. The sooner the defense investigation begins, the better for you!

WILL & WILL, LLP’s defense team, made up of former prosecutors and experienced defense attorneys have successfully handled many vehicular manslaughter cases, both involving alcohol and not. Furthermore, our investigators, criminalists, and accident reconstructionists have invaluable law enforcement backgrounds. We work with some of the top collision and alcohol consultants in the state, many of them former police investigators. Our knowledgeable team is ready to be put to hard work on your defense.

WATSON MURDER

This can be charged when a person does “an act, the natural consequences of which are dangerous to life, which was deliberately performed by a person who knows that his conduct endangers the life of another and who acts with conscious disregard for life.” A person convicted of DUI murder can be sentenced to prison for 15 years to life. Watson murders are rarely charged. In our experience, for a D.A.’s office to file this charge, they must show that the driver had a special knowledge or appreciation of the dangers of drunk driving. For example, they have been a repeat offender with multiple DUI convictions in the past.

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