An elementary school principal has been charged with DUI murder in connection with a head-on crash in Palmdale that killed a woman.  The suspect principal was ordered jailed in lieu of $2 million bail while awaiting arraignment next month.

The case is taking place at the Lancaster/Antelope Valley courthouse in LA County and the report alleges that the suspect was behind the wheel of her jeep when it veered into oncoming traffic and collided head-on with the victim’s car.

If convicted of this charge, the suspect faces a strike conviction and 15 years to life in state prison.

DUI causing death murder charges, or “Watson,” murder, is a way for prosecutors in California to prosecute someone who was DUI and caused a death with second-degree murder.  This occurs if the state can prove that the defendant was committed the offense with “implied malice.”  Implied malice, in plain English, means that the suspect does not need to intend to cause death, but acted with conscious disregard for human life.  Thus, if you deliberately get into your car while intoxicated, drive and end up causing a death, the driving while impaired can be interpreted as conscious disregard for human life.

Typically, “Watson” murders are charged only after someone has had a prior DUI conviction or has attended one of the statewide drinking and driving programs.

If you have been charged with a DUI causing a death or causing great bodily injury, it is important to contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.  Attorney Ross Erlich handles DUIs in Los Angeles county, Ventura county, San Bernardino county, Orange county and in Riverside county.  Additionally, if the facts surrounding the incident look bad, there are some pre-court actions attorney Ross Erlich can share to help improve your case status at the first court appearance.

Remember, if you are convicted of a DUI in California, you are looking at possible jail time, fines, loss of driver’s license, community service, problems with employment and other obligations.

Contact Ross Erlich today for a free case consultation and to stop the DMV from suspending your license.

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.


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