Beverly Hills Defense Attorney, Certified Specialist in Criminal Law, Defends Vehicular Homicide Cases
Murder, Second Degree Implied Malice Murder (including “Watson Murder”), Vehicular Manslaughter with Gross Negligence While Intoxicated, Misdemeanor Manslaughter.
Like life itself, changes in one’s life is like a blink of an eye. Because of an error in judgment, you’re no longer a solid citizen — you, of all people, are accused of homicide. In your heart, you know you’re not a murderer. But the damage is done, and awful consequences await.
For more than 40 years, I have represented people with no criminal history, ordinary law abiding people, who now face criminal charges. Criminal charges? That’s someone else, not me. The anxiety, the lack of personal control, the fear of the unknown, and, now the realization you are “hooked” into the criminal justice system yourself. “How could that be? Me?” All because of a lack of judgment, an unforeseeable circumstance, or a unique situation that led to an accident, such a situation never having occurred before, and not likely ever to occur in the future, your life is now changed.
The law in California is very punitive and often unforgiving in circumstances where death results from the negligent operation of a vehicle. It’s hard to imagine how a traffic violation could turn into a homicide prosecution. Depending on a finding of fact, and a finding of mental state, you could either be fined $100. or go to prison for life. The disparate ranges among possible sentences in vehicular homicide is frightening. Until the legislature, or the courts, make the line between murder and manslaughter more definitive than it is now, the normal law abiding citizen is at risk of receiving a punishment disproportionate to the “criminality” of his actions.
Most negligent cases, and DUI cases, do not form the basis for a charge of murder. However, the California Supreme Court ruled in the landmark case People v. Watson 30 Cal. 3d 290 that a driver who is aware of the dangers of driving while intoxicated, knows at the time he is driving that death is a highly probable consequence, and nonetheless deliberately drives with a conscious disregard for human life, may be charged with murder.
These vehicular homicide cases are very serious. Be certain that your attorney knows the law on this subject matter and has extensive experience handling these cases.
There are many qualified attorneys who have handled these types of homicides. I happen to be one of them. Know your attorney. Ask others. Don’t rely on advertisements. Do your due diligence.