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.

Law enforcement agencies throughout Los Angeles County made 499 arrests at various DUI checkpoints from Friday through Sunday this past Memorial Day weekend.  The final tally is 30 arrests fewer than the same time last year.

This DUI checkpoint campaign was part of a multi-agency collaboration and was funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

If you or someone you know has been arrested for DUI or other driving under the influence offenses, contact our office today for a free case consultation and evaluation. Remember that once you are arrested for a DUI, you have 10 days from the date of arrest to contact the DMV before they automatically suspend your license.  Also keep in mind that DUI checkpoints have to conform to certain requirements under state law and the failure of law enforcement to meet every requirement can help get your case reduced or even dismissed.

A DUI arrest in Los Angeles can be a serious, and tricky, case to handle.  A good defense attorney must keep track of the criminal court and DMV proceedings which are both separate and do not depend on one another.  Thus, you might have your case completely dismissed in criminal court and still be facing an administrative proceeding with the DMV seeking to suspend your license.  You may also face additional administrative action if you hold a professional license with a California State Licensing Board or any form of professional license.

Being convicted of a DUI in Los Angeles can bring jail time, fines, probation, the suspension of your driver’s license, driving under the influence classes and restitution for any damage caused by the incident.  For a more in-depth discussion of the DUI process click here.

If you have been arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles, Hollywood, Downtown LA, the Westside, Santa Monica, Culver City, North Hollywood, Beverly Hills or anywhere in LA County, contact attorney Ross Erlich today.

 


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