12 Aug 2015
A 19-year-old man was charged on Tuesday with murder and driving under the influence (DUI) of a drug in connection with a crash in North Hills where three others died.
The defendant was the only occupant in his vehicle when he struck the other vehicle, carrying four occupants, head-on. The crash occurred closed to 3:00 a.m. near Roscoe and Haskell.
DUI murder in California is also known as “Watson” murder and is charged as a second-degree murder offense. Unlike felony DUI causing death, which requires ordinary or “gross” negligence while operating a vehicle, Watson murder is more serious and usually involves allegations of conscious disregard for human life. In order to be convicted of a Watson murder in California, the prosecutor must prove that: 1) the death resulted from an intentional act, 2) the natural consequences of that act are dangerous to human life, and 3) you knowingly acted in conscious disregard for that fact.
The most common issue the prosecution has in pursuing a Watson murder conviction is proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, this third element of “knowingly acted in conscious disregard…” This is so difficult since your mental state at the time is a central issue and can be tough for a prosecutor to illustrate, and convince, a jury of this.
It should be noted that if you have had a prior DUI conviction, a prosecutor can prove implied malice via your initials on the box of those waiver forms where the Watson advisement is given.
A conviction of Watson murder in California carries a potential 15 years to life in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, and a strike pursuant to California’s Three Strikes Law. Additionally, if there are other, surviving, victims who have been seriously injured, you could face additional and consecutive prison terms.
If you or someone you know has been charged with DUI murder, a DUI causing death, a DUI causing great bodily injury or any other DUI or DUI-related offense, contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible. Having an aggressive criminal defense attorney on your side early in the process can end up being the best decision you make down the road. Approaching your case in a proactive manner prior to any criminal charges being filed can result in the reduction, or prevention, of more serious charges from being filed.
Contact our office today for a free consultation.