Drinking and driving can result in a DUI accident. These tragic accidents can lead to fatalities that are devastating to everyone involved, especially the loved ones left behind. Death of a loved one in an accident is a huge loss to deal with, even for the driver of the vehicle that caused the accident.
The driver may feel guilty, ashamed and terrified of how the accident will affect his or her future. Criminal charges, such as DUI vehicular manslaughter / vehicular negligent homicide, are often filed in these cases. What type of charges will be filed is determined by the circumstances surrounding the fatality and other aspects of the accident. There are many factors involved that can affect these charges.
Regardless of the charges filed, if you find yourself facing charges in a DUI accident it is extremely important that you have an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney on your side.
Driver’s Mental State
When a drunk driver causes an accident with fatalities, charges filed may be partially influenced by the mental state of the driver. His or her mental state at the time of the accident can make the difference between manslaughter or murder charges being brought by the state. If there was intent in the accident, murder charges will likely result. Manslaughter is usually the charge imposed for unintentional death.
Murder charges are usually filed when the prosecutor believes that the defendant intentionally caused harm or knew that driving while drunk would result in fatal injuries to another person, but still chose to drive anyway.
If a person is convicted of and aggravated DUI in some states, the defendant is read a specific advisement that is required by state law. This advisement may detail the risk involved in driving drunk, as well as how this can result in another person’s death. In some states, if a driver has already been in a DUI accident with fatalities or received the state advisement in the past, murder charges can be filed for the subsequent DUI fatality.
Differences between Murder and Manslaughter
It is important to understand how the charges of manslaughter and murder differ. Each provides its own set of potential consequences. A murder charge can lead to a life sentence or even execution in states with the death penalty.
Manslaughter can also lead to significant punishment. There are often varied degrees or grades of manslaughter charges, with each carrying their own penalties. There are a multitude of factors that the prosecutor may consider when determining how to file charges for an offense, including the defendant’s criminal history, their driving record and facts of the fatal accident.
Speeding, running a stop sign, running a red light or similar acts while driving under the influence can result in this type of charge. For this charge to stay, the prosecution must prove that the defendant acted beyond ordinary carelessness or inattentiveness.
Legal Help for DUI Manslaughter or Murder
Showing support for the victim’s family is often a motivation for prosecutors’ filing harsher charges against a defendant in DUI accident cases. This can result in a defendant facing major criminal penalties. Vehicular homicide or murder charges necessitate contacting a criminal defense lawyer. If you are facing these charges, you need a lawyer who can explain your rights to you. A lawyer can also communicate with the prosecutor on your behalf to negotiate a plea bargain for a reduced sentence or reduced charges.
A criminal defense attorney can also advocate for the defendant, establishing a legal strategy that fits the specifics of the case. Evidence can be suppressed with the help of a good criminal defense lawyer who can challenge the prosecution if procedural rules of evidence were not followed, or for other reasons.
DUI Manslaughter or murder charges are extremely serious. You need the help of a lawyer who can succeed in your defense. Call DM Cantor now at 602.307.0808 to set up a free, 30-minute consultation regarding your case.