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.

An off-duty LAPD officer was arrested last week on suspicion of DUI after he allegedly crashed his car into a McDonald’s drive-through in Diamond Bar.  Apparently the officer was exiting the freeway at 1:15 a.m. when his car veered off the exit ramp, crossed over to an on-ramp and then was launched 50 feet, eventually coming to rest in the drive-through.

Firefighters had to pull the officer from his car and transport him to the hospital.  A CHP officer responded to the hospital, where the officer must have shown the objective symptoms of being under the influence, and was arrested for DUI.

Assuming this off-duty officer has not had any prior DUI convictions within the last 10 years, he is facing a possible license suspension through the DMV and possibly through the court, a longer first-offender driving under the influence class (due to the accident), possible jail or Cal Trans work, court fines and fees and possible suspension or loss of his employment.  There are additional issues to keep in mind with regards to the impact of a DUI.  Contact the office to have a consultation about your specific case.

When there is a car accident such as this while driving under the influence, prosecutors seek to impose additional penalties to, what would otherwise be, a normal first-offense DUI offer.  Accidents, injuries, open containers, and driving on a suspended license are all common issues that can elevate the normal DUI case.

If you have been involved in a DUI with an accident or injuries, it is important that you contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible.  Contacting law enforcement, the prosecutor’s office and even trying to compensate victims can put you in a better place dealing with your case than if you just sat and waited.  Also keep in mind the need to contact the DMV within 10 days from the date of arrest to request a hearing and prevent an automatic suspension of your license.

If you have been arrested for a DUI anywhere in Los Angeles County, Ventura County, Orange County or San Bernardino County, contact attorney Ross Erlich today.


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