There are many DUI-related offenses in California carrying varying degrees of penalties. Generally, a suspected DUI stop involves a driver who is driving home from some social gathering and is pulled over for some other minor traffic infraction. In many instances, no harm is caused to individuals of the public and the offense is a misdemeanor. However, when death results from driving while impaired by alcohol, the charge is intoxicated manslaughter.
Intoxicated Manslaughter in California
The offense of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is described under California Penal Code 191.5 PC. The crime is made up of certain elements, which a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt to secure a guilty verdict. The elements of this offense include:
- The person charged was driving under the influence as prohibited by the law.
- While committing the DUI, the person charged perpetrated some act, whether illegal or otherwise, and this act causes the death of another.
- The defendant’s actions can be classified as negligence or gross negligence.
- The result of the actions of the person charged is the death of another.
When the intent is classified as gross negligence, the law prescribes that the charge is a felony. However, if the defendant is considered to have ordinary negligence, the offense can be tried as either a misdemeanor or a felony.
Penalties for an Intoxicated Manslaughter Conviction
This offense is a serious charge. As one can imagine, the death of a person who did not contribute to his or her own demise is not viewed favorably by society. The law recognizes that viewpoint and, accordingly, the penalties for vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated are harsh. However, the penalties will vary depending on whether the offense is charged as a felony or as a misdemeanor.
As a felony, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. Felonious vehicular manslaughter with ordinary negligence can be punished with a prison sentence of up to 4 years. If the charge is a misdemeanor, the law allows for a maximum penalty of 1 year in jail.
There is no doubt that being charged with intoxicated manslaughter is a serious matter. While there a number of factors at work at sentencing, the key to preventing prison time is to secure a not guilty verdict with an experienced San Diego DUI lawyer on your side.
Defending Your California Intoxicated Manslaughter Charge
It is always unfortunate when someone dies in a motor vehicle incident. Emotions run higher when the death is alleged to have been caused by a drunk driver. Nevertheless, as a person accused, you are innocent until proven guilty. Your first step is to make sure you retain the services of an experienced San Diego vehicular manslaughter attorney to prepare your defense.
The following are some of the legal defenses available to you if you are charged with vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in California:
- At the time of the accident, you were not under the influence of any alcohol or drugs.
- There is no evidence that you were negligent in your actions.
- Even if your actions were negligent, they were not the cause of the death of the victim.
- The circumstances surrounding the accident was one of an emergency and your actions were reasonable.
It is important that you share all information available to you with your lawyer. Your lawyer will be able to work from the start to get your charges dismissed or reduced depending on each case. If the matter must go to trial, there are a number of options available in building a sound defense to prove your innocence.
How An Experienced San Diego Vehicular Manslaughter Attorney Can Help You
At McElfresh Law, we have provided high-quality legal representation to people in San Diego and surrounding area for years. Our experience includes securing the freedom of many of our clients. We approach each case with a drive to fight the charges and secure a not guilty verdict.
We know that this is a challenging time for you and your family. Now more than ever you will need the steady hands of an experienced attorney to handle your matter. Let us stand by your side and be your criminal defense lawyer of choice. Call us today at (858) 756-7107, and let us begin the work necessary to get you back to living your life.