Vehicular homicide is charged when the death resulted from ordinary negligence. This is a “wobbler” and can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony by the prosecutor.
Manslaughter with gross negligence is a felony that is charged when criminal negligence caused a person’s death. Within the context of drunk driving, criminal negligence is generally defined as the knowledge that an individual’s actions were likely to result in death of another person.
Second Degree Murder
A Santa Cruz County DUI case can be charged as a second-degree murder when a death occurs due to a person driving under the influence. The person has to act with implied malice or a conscious disregard for life. Due to the difficulty in establishing implied malice, second-degree murder is an unusual charge in a DUI case.
If a defendant has prior DUI convictions, they can be used to show that the individual knew the dangers of drunk driving. In California, a defendant who pleads guilty or no contest to a DUI charge must admit to that knowledge either in court, or through a signed admission. This advisement is known as a “Watson Warning”. This may be used as evidence that the person acted with implied malice in a future prosecution for second-degree murder. Santa Cruz County DUI defense attorney will protect your rights and defend you against this charge while challenging whether the past charges can be used against you or not.
DUI with injury is technically a “wobbler” charge. This means it can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor, but Prosecutors will most likely go for the charge that carries greater penalties and punishment. A skilled DUI attorney may be able to have a DUI with injury reduced to a misdemeanor through a plea bargain.
How a DUI case is charged depends on many complex factors. Contact a Santa Cruz DUI attorney to evaluate your DUI case and determine how it is likely to be charged.
Most first DUI offenses in Santa Cruz County are charged as misdemeanors which are punishable by up to a year in county jail.
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Keep in mind that a felony DUI charge carries much tougher penalties than a misdemeanor DUI charge! It is essential to have experienced and aggressive legal representation in a felony DUI case. Contact Santa Cruz County DUI attorney so we can evaluate the factors in your case to minimize possible consequences and provide you with the best possible outcome in your case. When you hire a Santa Cruz County DUI defense attorney you are protecting your freedom, rights and finances