Articles Posted in dui vehicular manslaughter

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Last December 6th, 27-year-old Mallory Dies was killed in a Santa Barbara crash, and authorities arrested driver Raymond Morua in connection with the fatal Southern California DUI.

Morua had been working as an aid for Congresswomen Lois Capps, when he hit Dies after leaving a holiday party in Downtown Santa Barbara. Now, Dies’s parents, Matt and Raeona Dies, have filed a wrongful death suit against Morua… and named Congresswoman Capps and the Federal Government as defendants.

The plaintiffs claim that Representative Capps hired Morua, even though he had two DUI convictions as well as convictions for embezzlement and hit and run under his belt. Capps also failed to monitor his behavior or his driving. The lawsuit claims that Morua had been working for Capps on the night in question — as the plaintiff’s attorney put it “Mr. Morua has said under oath, under penalty of perjury, that he was on the job… [and this makes] Lois Capps … responsible.” Congresswoman Capps claims that Morua had NOT been working for on the night in question, and she issued statements of empathy: “My heart goes out to the family of the victim… I lost a daughter way before her time, and it’s a heartache.”

The 27-year-old had been on life support for several days before she passed away from her injuries. Her family claims that they incurred medical bills to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and they want compensation. Morua could face two decades behind bars on his May 28 sentencing.

We’ve been talking a lot recently about Los Angeles DUI manslaughter laws — such as Penal Code 191.5 (a), which defines gross vehicular manslaughter while DUI. But even if you don’t kill someone, you can face substantial jail time (over a year), just for injuring someone while driving DUI. According to California Vehicle Code Section 23153 (a) and (b), your penalties will depend on how many people got hurt and the nature of those injuries. If a person got seriously hurt, prosecutor can ask for a “great bodily injury” charge, which is an enhancement, and it can lead to three additional years of jail time. For help coming up with an appropriate defense against your Los Angeles DUI charges, call attorney Michael Kraut and the Kraut Law Group team immediately to schedule your free consultation with us.
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This awful news qualifies as one of most disturbing Los Angeles DUI stories of the year: a 16-year-old girl died over the weekend, after a suspected DUI driver smashed into her Palmdale apartment complex.fatal-los-angelesdui

Police found a mini-van jammed inside a building on 10th Street and Avenue R East at around 4 in the morning. Per Sheriff’s Lieutenant Ken Wright (from an interview he did for KNX 1070), “The vehicle was embedded into the building and went into the bedroom of a 16-year-old girl who has passed away as a result of injures from the accident.”

16-year-old Giselle Mendoza had attended Palmdale High School. Her father, Alberto Mendoza, was inconsolable – calling himself “destroyed.” Meanwhile, 20-year-old Roberto Rodriguez – also of Palmdale – has been arrested on suspicion DUI.

Per Lieutenant Wright “[Roberto] has been taken to the hospital to be treated for his injuries and will be booked for vehicular manslaughter … preliminary investigation indicates he was under the influence of alcohol.”

A local eyewitness, James Fisher King, told reporters: “I saw a car coming down 10th, east, about 80-85 miles per hour, and didn’t stop or hesitate. Just right into the building. Boom.” Another girl — just 14-years-old — almost also perished in the accident. Rodriguez’s car plowed through her bedroom as well. But she had been sleeping on the couch that night, fortuitously. Rodriguez made his $100,000 bail, which outraged the victim’s father, who said “You have a lot of money… and you spend money, and come out. And forget it. Somebody died… it’s not fair.”

The powerful emotions that follow a DUI accident in which someone dies can lead to unbelievable amounts of grief, confusion, and frustration on both sides of the equation. It’s easy for people to jump to conclusions about who caused the accident and why and what should be done. However, it’s critical to conduct a sober assessment of the facts.

Prosecutors can choose from an array of charges in DUI accidents that lead to injury or death. A typical non-injury DUI might be charged per California Vehicle Code Section 23152. An injury DUI, on the other hand, might be charged per CVC 23153. The difference between these codes is not just one number – it’s the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony.

If someone dies in an accident in which DUI is suspected, prosecutors can seek vehicular manslaughter charges. There are different grades of this charge, as well. “Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated” is defined by California Penal Code Section 191.5 (a). Prosecutors face a very stiff burden of proof in such cases, but the punishments can be comparably severe. Depending on what happened, the offender can face anywhere from probation to 10 years behind bars in a California prison for every person who died in the crash.

To construct an appropriate defense to your charges, contact a Los Angeles DUI criminal defense attorney at the Kraut Law Group today to schedule a free consultation with a former prosecutor and Harvard Law School educated attorney.
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Tragedy struck on South Victoria Avenue over the weekend, as 38-year-old assistant principal, Christopher Prewitt, lost his life after being struck by a car driven, allegedly, by a DUI driver.christopher-prewitt-dui-crash

Authorities arrested 23-year-old Shante Chappell of Oxnard for Los Angeles drug DUI and vehicular manslaughter in connection with the crime. Chappell made a $50,000 bond, and he faces his first day in court on Friday.

Prewitt, who had a major hearing disability, competed for the U.S team in the World Games for the Deaf as a water polo player. He coached and taught at the DeAnza Academy of Technology and Arts. The principal of that school, Hector Guerrero, reflected on Prewitt’s life and legacy, saying that he impacted “thousands of lives” and that “positivity was what Chris Prewitt was, and the kids absolutely loved that about him.”

This is obviously a deeply tragic loss – not just for Prewitt’s family, but also for the community and the school – and it speaks to how DUI manslaughter cases can ripple across many lives and the entire community.

Given the profound nature of these charges, prosecutors can seek substantial penalties in such cases. Depending on the nature of the crash and death, a defendant can face stringent charges per California Penal Code Section 191.5(a) – “gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.” This charge is complex, and prosecutors must work diligently to prove, among other things, that the defendant acted in a “grossly negligent” fashion. Technically speaking, that’s a type of negligence that goes beyond ordinary carelessness and bad judgment or lack of attention.

Consider, for reference, the Olivia Culbreath case. In case you missed the headlines, a young woman, while allegedly DUI, killed 6 people after driving 100 miles per hour the wrong way on the 60 freeway. Culbreath’s alleged actions could easily be considered grossly negligent, because everyone knows that driving 100 miles per hour the wrong way on the freeway can create a high risk of bodily injury or death. Any reasonable person would tell you that.

Without more facts about the Prewitt case, it is hard to know what prosecutors will ultimately ask for in this case.

If you or someone you love is contending with a Los Angeles DUI charge, former prosecutor and Harvard Law School educated attorney, Michael Kraut, and his team at the Kraut Law Group would be happy to provide a free and confidential consultation about your options.
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When you report on Los Angeles DUI cases day-in, day-out, as we do on this blog, it’s easy to become a little numb to the news.Mario-Careaga-DUI

Yes, many DUI stories are horrible – for everyone involved. But when viewed en masse, the stories can start to lose their meaning. Sometimes, however, a story emerges that strikes a chord not just because it involves a celebrity (or someone in power) but rather because it exposes our own fragility. It illustrates how a single lapse of reason can have profound consequences for victims, family members and anyone touched by the crash.

To that end, consider the sad story of Nancy Lopez-Ruiz, a 22-year-old dancer for the Miami Heat Basketball Club. On September 10, 2010, police arrested Mario Careaga and charged him with manslaughter DUI, after he hit Lopez-Ruiz’s bike on U.S. 1 and Sunrise Boulevard. The force of the crash threw the dancer off her motorcycle and launched her 130 feet from her vehicle, where she died.

Last week, court began hearing testimony in Careaga’s case. The jury saw photographic evidence that Careaga had been partying at the nearby Galleria Mall and drinking. He told the court “There were three drinks that I got, I finished two, but the third I did not finish — I left it on the counter.” Per an affidavit, police took two blood samples from Careaga after the crash and found that he had BAC levels of 0.24 percent and 0.23 percent respectively.

For those of you at home who are keeping score, that’s just about three times the legal limit for DUI in Florida or California – most places in the country. Law enforcement says that Careaga drifted out of his lane and hit Lopez-Ruiz with his Mercedes. He was released on $10,000 bond.

Per California law, when someone dies in an auto accident – and DUI is suspected – prosecutors can hit you with a very serious charge of vehicular manslaughter. Prosecutors will use police reports and investigatory tools to determine charges. You need to construct your defense immediately after an event in which someone dies, since evidence that could exonerate you – or at least mitigate your punishment – can quickly disappear. Witnesses may forget what they saw, for instance, or critical evidence from the scene may be cleaned up.

In a worst case scenario, you could be hit with a charge of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, pursuant to penal code 191.5 (a).

To build an effective defense to Los Angeles DUI charges – whether they’re vehicular manslaughter charges or a simple misdemeanor offense – call Harvard Law School educated ex-prosecutor Michael Kraut and his team today at the Kraut Law Group for a free consultation.
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