Watson Murder and DUI Manslaughter Lawyer

San Diego DUI Lawyer
DUI is the single biggest focal point of law enforcement in San Diego.  There is aggressive prosecution and harsh enforcement of DUI laws.  Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol has proven unsafe, and can result in the death of another human being.  These are the DUI offenses taken most seriously.  When a DUI driver charged with the death of another human being has a prior conviction for DUI (or "wet reckless"), DUI causing death can be charged as murder.  Pursuant to the 1981 landmark California case People v. Watson, California law considers driving recklessly while intoxicated enough to meet the wanton disregard requirement for second degree murder by "implied malice."  Watson murder charges are very serious, and require knowledgeable, dedicated, thorough criminal defense representation.  Both Watson murder and DUI manslaughter are always felonies and always strike offenses. 

If a person dies in an accident and the other driver has drugs or alcohol in their system, serious felony charges are likely to follow.  A person with no criminal history, specifically no history of DUI, will likely be charged with DUI Manslaughter.  Manslaughter is the unintentional killing of another human being, while murder requires intent.  California law permits an inference of intent/malice aforethought in Watson murder cases, reasoning that those convicted once of DUI are made aware of the risks associated with driving impaired.  An advisement is given as part of most DUI pleas, and those convicted of DUI are typically ordered to attend alcohol education programming.  The difference between murder and manslaughter is intent; in DUI cases, the difference, practically speaking, is a prior convictionWatson advisement is also being presented on driver's license applications.  This is ominous in that harsher penalties may some day be applied in DUI manslaughter cases without a prior DUI.

All of the offenses that apply to a run-of-the-mill DUI case will also apply to a Watson murder or DUI manslaughter case.  These defenses include:
Rising BAC,Mouth Alcohol, Medical Conditions, Field Sobriety Tests, Proper Testing Procedure, Driving Pattern, Testing Accuracy.  In addition, the prosecution must prove that the defendant actually caused the accident that resulted in the victim's death.  Not every person who has been drinking and involved in an accident is at fault.  The accident could have been caused by the victim, another driver, or an "act of God" (dog running into the street, for example).  As such, DUI causing death defense requires a strong understanding of accident reconstruction, evidence gathering and preservation, and effective presentation of that evidence.  Every case is different, and every defense must be properly tailored to the case, the client, the judge and the jury.

DUI Manslaughter is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.  Additionally, those convicted of DUI Manslaughter (or any other felony DUI offense) are subject to substantially increased penalties for any subsequent DUI.  Even if the second DUI is a .09 at a DUI checkpoint with no accident, a person previously convicted of felony DUI could be looking at doing up to six years in prison.  Watson murder is the most harshly punished.  Someone convicted of murder for killing another person while driving intoxicated (due to a prior conviction) will face 15 years to life in prison, and a "strike" under California's Three Strikes Law.

Needless to say, those facing DUI manslaughter or DUI murder charges in San Diego need to put their case in competent hands.  You need an attorney with the knowledge, experience and tenacity to get you the best possible result in you case.  Contact us now for a Free Consultation with a San Diego DUI Lawyer.  619-930-9515.

Standard Watson Advisement:
"I understand that being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both, impairs my ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.  I understand that it is extremely dangerous to human life to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both.  I understand that if I continue to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both, and as a result of my driving, someone is killed, I can be charged with murder."

Nicholas M. Loncar, Esq.
San Diego DUI Lawyer
San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney
By Nicholas Loncar        


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