Articles Posted in dui vehicular manslaughter

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Deaths caused by crashes involving a driver who is DUI in Los Angeles are always heartbreaking because they are so unnecessary and preventable. It’s somehow worse when the victim is an infant, and the child’s parents try to salvage something good from their devastation.dui-child-los-angeles

Mixed martial arts fighter Marcus Kowal lost his young son over Labor Day weekend when a 72-year-old woman hit the toddler’s stroller in Hawthorne, California. The 15-year-old aunt of Liam Mikael Kowal was pushing him in a stroller through a pedestrian crosswalk with flashing yellow lights on Saturday, September 3rd. Donna Marie Higgins hit the pair and then tried to flee the scene, but witnesses followed her and blocked her SUV to prevent her escape.

When emergency responders arrived, they found Liam still strapped in the stroller and his teenaged aunt lying near the crosswalk. Liam was not breathing, but they managed to revive him and rush him to Harbor UCLA Medical Center. However, the child had suffered irreversible brain injuries and his parents made the difficult decision to take him off life support and donate his organs to another young child. They said that they hoped the donation would save another child’s life and spare other parents the tragedy they are facing.
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car-flooded-fatal-DUI-los-angelesOver the years, this blog has reported on dozens of Los Angeles DUI stories involving fatal wrecks. In court and in news reports, drivers often lament that they think about their crashes with remorse every single day.

Nen Yang, 55, will have to live the rest of his life knowing that he likely caused the death of an unidentified woman passenger on March 5th. Rains flooded some of the roads in Yuba County, but Yang, instead of stopping at a closed-off section of road between Highways 65 and 70, reportedly plowed right through the water that was laying on it. Only when it was too late did he realize that the water was six to eight feet deep—enough to submerge his vehicle.

Los Angeles’ KTLA television station reported that while Yang managed to struggle out of the flooded car, his 52-year-old female passenger was not so lucky. She died, trapped in the car as the water poured in.

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Although police officers arrest people from all walks of life on charges of DUI in Los Angeles, it’s not often that those DUIs relate directly to a job. But two separate incidents—one resulting in fatal injuries—demonstrate how people in some occupations may be more at risk when it comes to driving under the influence.CarMax-salesman-DUI-los-angeles-crash

The first case involves a Pennsylvania nurse who forgot that he was on call to assist in emergency surgery. Richard Pieri had just returned home after enjoying time off at the Mohegan Sun casino; he reportedly had drunk at least four beers when he got the summons to go to the VA Medical Center near Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. A surveillance video at the hospital showed Pieri bumping his vehicle into a concrete barrier at the parking lot before he headed up to assist the surgical team. (One of his jobs was to monitor the patient’s vital signs during the operation; fortunately for both the patient and Pieri, the surgery went well.) Coworkers noted that Pieri had not seemed his usual self during surgery and reported the incident to management. Police later became involved, charging Pieri with reckless endangering another person, DUI and public drunkenness.

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A felony Los Angeles DUI hit and run resulted in the recent death of a young woman in West Covina, horrifying the community and motivating a public cry for justice.Raymond-Alvarado-DUI

On December 30, a man named Raymond Alvarado fled from the scene of a crash after slamming into a small car, injuring both the driver and passenger. That passenger, Sherry Yu, ultimately died from her injuries

Police later arrested Alvarado and charged him with a battery of counts, including DUI causing injury, driving with a BAC level higher than .08 causing injury, a felony hit and run causing injury, and driving without a valid driver’s license. He pled not guilty to all charges. If convicted on all accounts, he faces up to 11 years in state prison.

Based on a superficial read of the evidence, Alvarado might be facing an uphill battle. Assuming he did could the crash, what if he had stayed and called for an ambulance? Would the extra time have saved Yu’s life? This is the kind of question he might have to answer in court.

It is never advisable to leave the scene of a crime. In California, any hit and run while under the influence is considered aggravated DUI, and the crime can be harshly prosecuted. If you get a DUI while driving without a valid license or driving while speeding, you could also face aggravated DUI charges. Depending on the circumstances, your extra sentencing could range from community service and rehabilitation to prison time and fines.

If you committed a hit and run while possibly DUI, seek qualified legal advice quickly. A Los Angeles DUI attorney like Michael Kraut of the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers can help you achieve a solid outcome. Mr. Kraut spent nearly 15 years working as a prosecutor in similar cases, and his deep network within the Los Angeles criminal defense community – as well as his knowledge and skill — can help protect your rights and give you clarity about your options.

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Our Los Angeles DUI lawyers were saddened to learn about a terrible fatal tragedy that rocked Maryland a few weeks ago and left a major church embroiled in public relations damage control. Heather Cook, an Episcopal bishop in Baltimore, Maryland, was arrested in early January for a hit-and-run incident while allegedly intoxicated. That collision left a bicyclist dead at the scene.bishop-cook-dui

44 year old Tom Palermo had been riding his bike when Cook — who allegedly had been texting while driving — struck him from behind while swerving on the road. Tests later suggested that she had three times the legal amount of alcohol in her system. (Per both Maryland and Los Angeles laws, the legal limit is 0.08% BAC).

The bishop then allegedly panicked and drove off for over half an hour, leaving witnesses to call for an ambulance. Mr. Palermo died of his injuries a short time later. Bishop Cook later returned to the accident scene and gave herself up to the police.

This is Bishop Cook’s second DUI charge. Four and a half years ago, police arrested her for possession of marijuana and driving under the influence. After that incident, her diocese failed to inform most of the church’s administration of the crime. Shortly after, church higher-ups promoted her to bishop.

Cook’s alleged actions left a wife and two children without a father; critics say the church has failed to punish her behavior appropriately. The diocese placed Cook on leave with full pay and compensation. In a statement made to the press, the church said it’s putting faith in the judiciary system to render a fair and just response. If the bishop successfully avoids prison, the church has indicated that she will get to return to her position without any repercussions.

Critics say that Bishop Cook has received special treatment from the state attorney’s office. They say that attorney Marilyn J. Mosby waited nearly two weeks to file charges against Cook; meanwhile, the cycling community and general public has fumed. Critics said that a layman similarly charged would have been treated much more harshly by the system.

If you got pulled over for a DUI, don’t panic, but do take strategic action to deal with your charges. An experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer with the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers can help you respond strategically to your arrest and avoid common errors that can complicate cases.

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Those facing Los Angeles DUI charges involving the injury or death of the other party may understand the plight of an Albemarle County man currently in custody.Donovan-James-Webster-DUI-manslaughter

On Monday, August 18, author Donovan James Webster was arrested on DUI charges related to a car crash resulting in the death of a Virginia man.

The three-vehicle accident involved a tractor-trailer and two vehicles. Wayne Thomas White, a 75-year-old resident of Waynesboro, died in the collision. Shortly thereafter, authorities took Webster into custody, and they are currently holding him without bond on suspicion of driving under the influence.

A well-known writer, 55-year-old Webster acted as senior editor to Outside Magazine. He also wrote for high profile magazines, such as National Geographic and The New Yorker. Webster traveled across the world and worked with celebrities such as Sissy Spacek and Matt Damon on his projects; he also won multiple awards and recognitions for his work.

Unfortunately, this recent accident will likely have a negative impact on the writer’s reputation and career.

Whether you are a highly regarded celebrity or an average citizen, California law regards DUI as a serious offense. If an individual died in an accident that you caused, the prosecution can charge you with serious counts, such as vehicular manslaughter.

A conviction for DUI-related manslaughter carries significant consequences, including jail time, license suspensions, fines and lost employment.

A Los Angeles DUI defense attorney understands the complex legal processes involved in these cases and can help defendants avoid the most severe penalties. If you have been arrested due to a DUI accident in which another person died, you may feel overwhelmed, frightened, and alone. The experienced attorneys at the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers can advocate on your behalf to help you present a strong case.

Contact the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers today to set up your free consultation and begin your defense.

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As regular readers of our Los Angeles DUI blog know, the crime of driving under the influence is anything but monolithic.phoenix_suns_pj_tucker-dui

Your blood alcohol concentration and subtleties regarding your arrest and criminal history (if any) can dramatically influence your potential punishments. For instance, if you test just over the limit (0.08%), you will face lesser charges than if you test way over the limit (0.15%+ BAC). Our neighboring state, Arizona, has similarly stratified its DUI punishment scheme, and P.J. Tucker, a forward for the Phoenix Suns, may soon become intimately familiar with the gradations.

According to the AP, the star forward just pled guilty to “super extreme” DUI. He will spend three days in jail and 11 days in home detention.

Police pulled Tucker over in Scottsdale on May 10 and tested him to have a BAC of 0.22%, two and three quarters over the legal limit. In addition to the jail time and home detention, Tucker will pay a fine of $2,750, go through alcohol counseling, use an interlocking ignition device in his car for the next year and a half and undergo probation for five years.

The President of the Suns issued a statement: “In considering this matter, we concluded that P.J. was sincere in his remorse and his resolve to accept the consequences of his actions… we are convinced that he will take the necessary steps to avoid any such conduct in the future. The Suns do not in any way condone his conduct, but we do support him as he works through this.”

According to police reports, Tucker was driving around in his Mercedes Benz, when police pulled him over. He allegedly exhibited classic DUI symptoms, such as bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and a lack of coordination on his field sobriety test (FSTs). The Suns booked him on a $6.5 million three-year deal less than two months after the arrest, and he promised his team and his fans “I will not let you down.”

Tucker’s case is important for at least two reasons.

First, his arrest demonstrates that even highly successful, motivated and publicly visible people can and do make grievous DUI mistakes that can lead to major punishments. Just because you’re an NBA forward does not mean that you are immune from the laws of the land and that you can’t wind up behind bars.

Secondly, the Tucker story also shows that resilience is possible. Although Tucker faces long-term inconveniences, such as probation and an IID in his vehicle, he still managed to lock a $16.5 million contract, and his team has given him a second chance.

To build an effective Los Angeles DUI defense, call attorney Michael Kraut of the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers today to schedule a free consultation with a former high-level prosecutor who has won significant renown for his work and who has great relationships not only with clients but also with Los Angeles judges, prosecutors and police officers.
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Los Angeles DUI attorneys are closely following the case of 25-year-old Yocio Jonathan Gomez, who received a lengthy sentence on Friday, July 11 for DUI conduct that killed two construction workers in 2012. The guilty verdict included two felony counts of gross vehicular manslaughter and second-degree murder, for which Gomez will spend 34 years to life in prison.yocio-los-angeles-dui

On July 22, 2012, Gomez got behind the wheel of his Ford Explorer with a blood alcohol level of 0.21 percent, almost triple the legal limit of 0.08 percent in California. While driving approximately 90 miles per hour through a construction zone on the 405 Freeway in Torrance, Gomez struck another vehicle, pushing it into construction workers Ricardo Zamora and Ramon Lopez. The collision killed both men.

This arrest, Gomez’s third drunken driving offense, happened while he was serving probation for another offense, which likely contributed to the long length of his sentence. Another factor may have been his lack of emotion or remorse throughout the sentencing hearing, despite emotional testimony from the families of the deceased.

Under California law, second-degree murder charges for DUI drivers are rare and represent a profound disregard for the lives of others. While the standard sentence for such a conviction is 15 years to life in prison, this sentence is increased for each individual killed, and prior offenses do make a difference.

Based on the circumstances of this case, Gomez represents an anomaly among DUI drivers. While a rare number of individuals may act with blatant disregard for the safety of others, the vast majority of DUI drivers get behind the wheel without intending to harm anybody. However, all DUI drivers must take responsibility for their actions and the consequences that follow.

If you currently face Los Angeles DUI charges, you may feel remorseful and afraid. Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers understands the complexities of California law and can help you form a strong legal defense. Contact us today for a free consultation regarding your case.

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Most Los Angeles DUI stories that make it into the mainstream press (and get a lot of “buzz” in the blogosphere) involve celebrities, politicians, ironic DUI scenarios, and heartbreakingly dramatic/tragic news.fatal-dui-defense-los-angeles

Unfortunately, “low profile” victims often do not get the attention they probably deserve.

However, occasionally, an accident is so horrific that it captures national attention, even if the people involved do not have their own reality TV shows. To wit: last Sunday, a homeless man died after a crash near the Fifth Street off-ramp of a San Francisco freeway. Authorities believe that a DUI driver hit a tent where the man had been sleeping near the freeway.

According to the California Highway Patrol, 27-year-old Jaime Juarez allegedly smashed into the homeless man and several other people in his Toyota Forerunner after mis-navigating the West Fifth Street exit of 1-80 and then smashing through the guardrail into the tent. The victim died on the scene. Police arrested Juarez for DUI, took him to the San Francisco County Jail and booked him on charges of vehicular manslaughter and felony DUI. Both counts could land him many years behind bars.

California law distinguishes between two main categories of DUI – standard misdemeanor, non-injury DUIs, defined by California Vehicle Code Sections 23152(a) and (b) and injury DUIs, defined by California Vehicle Code Sections 23153(a) and (b).

Prosecutors can also try to enhance your sentence under the following circumstances:

•    You had been driving with an extremely high blood alcohol concentration (e.g. 0.20%);
•    You severely injured or killed someone as opposed to “merely” hurting someone by breaking his arm, for instance;
•    You behaved with gross negligence as opposed to just standard carelessness;
•    You had been arrested and convicted for a DUI offense in the past. If you received a “Watson advisement” after your last DUI, and then you drove DUI again and killed someone, you could be charged with an offense known as a DUI murder;
•    You hit someone and left the scene (hit and run);
•    You evaded police or struggled or attacked police during or after the arrest;

No matter what happened in your case, you deserve a fair and thorough defense. The team here at the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers can help you understand your charges and construct an appropriate strategy. Speak with a Los Angeles DUI defense attorney right now to protect your rights.

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Few recent Los Angeles DUI cases match the scope or tragedy of a 2012 collision in Miami, FL that killed 13-year-old cheerleader Kaely Camacho.sandor-dui-manslaughter

The accident occurred when Sandor Guillen, 30, struck the Camacho family’s minivan with his Land Rover, tearing the van in half before fleeing the scene. The police later apprehended Guillen in a nearby field and charged him with DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide, and leaving the scene of an accident. In March, a jury found Guillen guilty on all three counts.

On June 6, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Ellen Sue Venzer sentenced Guillen to 20 years in prison, as well as 2 years of house arrest, 7 years probation, and a yearly charitable donation in Camacho’s honor.

This tragic case has rocked the community, its notoriety attracting crowds of spectators and much media attention. Although Guillen made no statement of remorse at his sentencing hearing, family members accused the media of making the case into a “modern-day lynching,” depicting the defendant as a monster rather than an upstanding individual who made a terrible mistake.

Cases such as Guillen’s present heartbreaking scenarios to everyone involved. Driving under the influence is a serious charge with heavy consequences, and when a person has died, the tragedy extends to the perpetrator, the victims, their families, and the community.

California DUI Law

Under California law, an individual can be charged with vehicular manslaughter when the defendant violates a traffic law or engages in negligent behavior leading to the death of another person. When alcohol is involved, the offense becomes more complex and severe.

In some DUI manslaughter cases, law enforcement agencies may file premature and excessive charges against the defendant to try to force a plea deal. The media may portray defendants as villains, when in reality, they are simply individuals who have made grave errors.

If you are facing DUI manslaughter charges, you are likely frightened, overwhelmed, and full of regret. You don’t need to face this on your own. A Los Angeles DUI attorney well-versed in California law and the legal system will use every tool available – from accident reconstruction to toxicology to eyewitness reports – to resolve your case.

Contact Kraut Legal Group today to begin your defense.
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