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.

Former UFC Champ Tito Ortiz was arrested on Monday morning on suspicion of DUI following a crash on the 405 freeway in West Los Angeles.

According to the California Highway Patrol’s initial investigation, Ortiz was driving on the freeway when he lost control of his vehicle and struck the concrete median.  CHP officers responded to the scene after Ortiz has pulled off of the freeway.  No one was injured and Ortiz’s vehicle sustained moderate damage.

Being arrested for a DUI causing injury or with a traffic collision is more of a complex case than a straightforward DUI.  When there are injuries involved, you may be charged with a felony, there may be jail time involved and the possibility of a large amount of restitution to the victim.  A DUI with a traffic accident, in most situations, will not lead to jail time, but will trigger a longer driving under the influence education program, community service or Cal Trans work, and restitution to the victim(s).

Remember, if you have been arrested for a DUI, you or your attorney must contact the DMV within 10 days of the arrest to request an Administrative Per Se hearing.  Not doing so can result in the automatic suspension of your driver’s license!

There are many other factors that should be addressed immediately after being arrested for a DUI and one of those is consulting with an experienced DUI lawyer.  Attorney Ross Erlich has handled hundreds of DUI cases in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino and Ventura counties.  Ross Erlich knows what facts to look for, what procedures law enforcement needs to follow and, most importantly, how to resolve your case in the best possible way.  Contact the office of attorney Ross Erlich today for a free DUI consultation and fight for your rights.

A former Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy was sentenced to three years probation for driving with more than twice the legal blood alcohol limit, hitting another vehicle, injuring the occupant of that vehicle and then fleeing the scene.

The former deputy will have to wear an alcohol-monitoring device for two years and will have to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on any vehicle that is registered to him.

Michael Grundy, the ex-deputy mentioned above, was driving under the influence of alcohol and another unspecified drug when he hit another car in a South Los Angeles intersection.  He was ultimately found by two other deputies, returned to the scene of the crime and arrested by the CHP.

Grundy had already completed a 180-day rehabilitation program at the time of sentencing and was ordered to pay over $25,000 in restitution to the victim in the case. Grundy had previously been arrested for drunk driving in Riverside County in 2005.

Grundy was originally charged with felony DUI causing injury, which is a very serious crime in Los Angeles.  Considering there was likely an additional charge of hit-and-run, prosecutors likely sought jail time and a substantial amount of restitution.  Many people believe that if you are driving under the influence and get into an accident, the best course of action is to attempt to flee and avoid arrest.  The problem with that choice is if you get charged with a separate count of hit-and-run, you are looking at additional punishment, fines and restrictions on your driver’s license.

If you have been charged with a DUI or hit and run in Los Angeles, it is important to contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible.  The DMV must be contacted within 10 days of the date of arrest to prevent an automatic suspension of your driver’s license so contact us before it is too late!

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A 19-year-old from Irvine has been arrested on felony manslaughter and DUI charges after a car crash that killed a 16-year-old girl and injured 6 others.

The incident occurred at approximately 1:30 a.m. when 2 cars were travelling over 70 mph on a canyon road.  The driver of the front car stopped abruptly in an attempt to avoid hitting a deer.  The suspect, in the car behind the front one, also slammed on his brakes but lost control of the vehicle when it slammed into a tree.  One of the passengers in the suspect’s car was ejected and died from her injuries.

If you were operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated and one of your passengers dies as a result of an accident that a prosecutor believes is your fault, you may be charged with felony vehicular manslaughter.  This offense is a “wobbler” meaning that, depending on the facts of your case and prior criminal history, the prosecutor may charge it as either a felony or a misdemeanor.  It is important to note that, if charged as a misdemeanor, the maximum punishment is up to 1 year in county jail and a $1,000 fine.  If charged as a felony, you are facing 16 months, 2 or 4 years in state prison.

There are many relevant facts that go into this type of criminal charge.  For example, it is important to determine the level of intoxication, the blood alcohol concentration, the weather conditions at the time of the accident, the other driver’s conduct, the road conditions and other factors that may have contributed directly to causing the accident.  Keep in mind that the prosecutor needs to establish that you were driving under the influence, that you negligently committed an unlawful act and that negligence caused the death of another person.

If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident where someone has been seriously hurt or died as a result, it is important to contact an attorney before making statements to law enforcement.  Having an attorney on your side speak to the prosecutor’s office prior to charges being filed may lead to lesser charges getting filed or the possibility of settling some issues outside of court.

If you have been arrested for a DUI or vehicular manslaughter in Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Los Angeles, Culver City, Santa Monica or North Hollywood, contact attorney Ross Erlich before you make any other calls.

 


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