Articles Posted in Manslaughter

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Los Angeles County saw an alarming increase in the number of hit-and-run crashes in 2015, the last year for which statistics are available. According to a report from the NBC4 I-Team, the California Highway Patrol reported that the county experienced more than 28,000 such crashes in 2015. The report also revealed that 50 percent of all crashes in Los Angeles County are hit-and-run. (Compare that to the national figures; the American Automobile Association says that 11 percent of all crashes nationwide are hit-and-run.)hit-and-run-los-angeles-DUI

But California is not alone in the increasing number of hit-and-runs. New York, Florida and North Carolina are among the states also reporting big jumps in the number of crashes where drivers flee the scene.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that hit-and-run drivers kill nearly 1,500 people annually:

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The damage done by drivers convicted of DUI in Los Angeles and other areas can last for years. Take the case of two families—one from Columbus, Ohio, and the other from Las Vegas—who had very little time to enjoy their memories of their recently-completed vacations. Accidents caused by DUI drivers ended the lives of some of these travelers, leaving the survivors with awful, painful recollections instead of happy ones. springbreakDUI-los-angeles

The extended Crowell family was on their way home from a memorable trip to Disney World when 35-year-old Cory Sheward of Tiffin, Ohio, collided head on with the family’s car. According to reports, he had been driving the wrong way on Interstate 77. Police believe he had crossed the median and had been heading south in the northbound lanes for at least two miles before he slammed into the Crowell’s car.

Sheward killed four people: Carlisa Crowell, age 29; Maxine Wade, age 27; Tasha Freeman, age 9; and Aubrey Willoubey, age 6. The four other passengers suffered serious injuries, including Crowell’s 28-year-old brother, Thomas, who had brain injuries. Reports say he was only breathing with the help of a respirator. Police will be charging Seward with four counts of DUI causing serious bodily injury.

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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 drivers convicted of DUI in Los Angeles sometimes face harsh sentences, those jail terms rarely approach the time a judge gave to a man in Austin, Texas, for a March 2014 DUI incident.rashad-owens-dui-sentence

Rashad Owens, 23, an aspiring rapper, had been driving while intoxicated and without his vehicle lights on when he spotted a police check point on March 13 around 12:30 a.m. Instead of stopping, Owens took off, driving through a gas station, speeding the wrong way on a one-way street and reaching speeds of 55 miles per hour before crashing through a traffic barrier. He then turned onto Red River Street, plowing through a crowd of people who had gathered for the South by Southwest (SWSW) music, film and interactive festival.

Owens wreaked devastation with his gray Honda Civic. Two people died at the scene, and two died a week later in the hospital. He also injured more than 20 people during his flight.

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As someone who was arrested recently for Glendale DUI, you’re worried about the profound possible impact of the charges. Will you go to jail? Will the state confiscate your license… and for how long? donna-brown-glendale-dui.jpg

Even if you were involved in a non-injury scenario – for instance, if you just got stopped at a checkpoint on Victory or pulled over on the 134 East for DUI – your Glendale DUI arrest can be a big, big deal. A life-changing deal.

And if you face additional criminal charges, the stakes get even higher.

But DUI cases are almost never without interesting surprises.

Consider the story of Donna Brown, a defendant in a DUI manslaughter case. Ms. Brown stands accused of killing Karl Patrick, a motorcyclist, after her vehicle smashed his bike and then dragged him for miles along Florida Highway, US 41. Ms. Brown’s DUI test results showed that she had a very high BAC level – over twice the legal limit for Glendale DUI (0.08 percent). She also allegedly had marijuana in her system.

That said, the Florida Highway Patrol made a critical mistake when they tested her. They did not get a legally required warrant. As a result, Brown’s legal defense team managed to persuade a judge to prevent her blood test results from being used in her trial. In addition, the Florida Highway Patrol trooper cannot talk about the field sobriety test he put Ms. Brown. Why not? Because he was not an authority in administering Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs).

(Just to refresh you, Glendale DUI field sobriety tests can include:

• Finger to the nose test;
• Count backwards from 100 by 3s test;
• Horizontal gaze nystagmus test;
• Walk the line test;
• Balancing test;
• etc.

Leena Marcos, a Florida Assistant State Attorney, said “The state still has a strong case with that [DUI blood test and FST] evidence not being introduced.” And Brown herself is still in jail, because she violated her probation by driving, even though her license had been suspended.

But it’s easy to see how crucial the DUI test and FST evidence might have been for state’s case.

So what’s the takeaway here?

The bigger lesson here is that, if you stand accused of a crime like Glendale DUI, you may be able to defend or deflect your charges by challenging the legalities of the police procedures used during your stop and arrest. Even if – objectively, technically speaking – you did have too much alcohol in your system – you can still get your charges dropped. If the process by which police investigated your driving, arrested and booked you was Unconstitutional — or if it otherwise did not follow “the rules” — you can beat back the charges and get your freedom back.

To understand how to build a stiff, aggressive Glendale DUI defense, connect with the team here at the Kraut Law Group. Mr. Kraut is a widely respected former prosecutor who maintains excellent relationships with stakeholders throughout the LA court system.

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So much happened last week in Los Angeles criminal defense news. Yet one story dominated the headlines and even momentarily distracted the populous from the sad but ever-developing story of Lindsay Lohan’s DUI/probation violation/grand theft/morgue duty skipping/playboy stripping saga. conrad-murray-convicted.jpg

Let’s quickly recap some of the “big events” in the Murray-Jackson saga from last week. Last Monday, 12 jurors found the 58-year old doctor guilty of involuntary manslaughter, just days after pop icon Michael Jackson’s physician appeared on The Today Show. Sentencing has been set for November 28th.

But that wasn’t the end of the drama!

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If you have been charged with a Southern California white collar crime, like insurance fraud, medical fraud, bribery, etc, you may ultimately have to face a jury trial, depending on an array of factors, including what you allegedly did, how much harm ensued, who was involved, the scope of the scheme, etc.conrad-murray-trial-lessons.jpg

Jury selections can be a tricky business, however, particularly in high profile cases.

To wit, consider the brouhaha surrounding jury selection for the trial of Michael Jackson’s doctor, Conrad Murray. The Thursday before last, Judge Michael Pastor gathered 160 prospective jurors to see whether attorneys could find candidate jurors to hear Murray’s involuntary manslaughter trial. All 160 prospective jurors had heard about the trial.

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Last week, Moammar Gaddafi’s four-plus decade rein over Libya came to a screeching halt as rebels overtook Green Square in Tripoli. qaddafi.jpg

If you were recently arrested for driving under the influence in Glendale, you probably weren’t paying much attention. You were probably focused more on the imminent crises in your life – potential jail time, license suspension, mandatory installation of interlock ignition device, and other problems that you could face if you are ultimately convicted of Glendale DUI.

Maybe you made a mistake, ignoring the news.

Maybe you should have been paying attention to Libya – and not just to have something to chat about with coworkers while you gather around the water cooler. You see, the rapid and surprising collapse of Gaddafi’s loyalist forces indirectly teaches us a powerful lesson about Glendale DUI defense.

Yes, it sounds like a stretch at first. But stay with this train of thought…
When you read analyses of the drama in Libya, there is a common refrain: “No one saw this coming.” NATO didn’t anticipate it, policymakers didn’t anticipate it, probably even the rebels themselves didn’t anticipate that they would be able to march into Tripoli in such short order. This kind of deer-caught-in-the-headlights reaction is typical during war. Events on the ground often come as a surprise, and war plans disintegrate often immediately after they go into effect.

Now, building a coherent defense against Glendale DUI – to get you unhooked from charges pursuant to California Vehicle Code Sections 23152(a) or 23152(b) – is not exactly like going to a war. But both war and DUI defense involve strategic thinking – and they also involve surprising setbacks and opportunities. Good generals – and good Glendale criminal defense attorneys, too –understand the power of strategic thinking as well as the power of renegotiating, reassessing, and reforming plans in the midst of battle.

For instance, in your case, new evidence might suddenly emerge that could potentially get your charges dropped or at least give prosecutors a much harder time. If you don’t have the strategic focus and flexibility available to take advantage of that development, you might miss out on a key opportunity to reduce your sentence.

Just as the Libyan rebels managed to take advantage of the surprising collapse of Gaddafi’s forces to turn the tide and take down Tripoli, your Glendale DUI defense attorney may potentially leverage surprising developments in your favor. These include sudden revelations of weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and other subtle factors that could transform your options and get you better results than you – or even your attorney – ever expected.

To that end, you want to work with an attorney who thinks like a general – who helps you not only construct the right strategic defense, but also continually reassesses your options in real time. Attorney Michael Kraut of Glendale’s Kraut Law Group (450 North Brand Boulevard, Suite 600, Glendale, California 91203 Phone: (818) 507-9123) has a unique vantage on Glendale DUI defense law. Attorney Kraut served as a prosecutor for over 14 years. He put DUI defendants behind bars before switching over to become a criminal defense attorney. Since he has “played the game from both sides,” he can help you understand what your prosecutors are planning and counter-plan accordingly.

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No one wants to be arrested for Southern California DUI, and no one wants to be involved in an injury crash with a driver who has been under the influence. But just how much of a problem is, for instance, driving under the influence in Beverly Hills or elsewhere in the state? Has anyone quantified the dangers? And if so, what might the data tell us about how to solve this society-wide problem – or at least build towards a long-term resolution of it?dui-stats.jpg

Before we start thinking in grand terms and trying to diagnose a solution for the system, take a gander at the following 12 statistics about driving under the influence in Southern California:

1) Of the car accidents in the United States that result in teen deaths, 60% involve alcohol or drugs.
2) Kids drink. Nearly three out of four teenagers in the United States have drunk alcohol; 10% of kids aged 12 to 13 drink alcohol at least once every month.
3) In the United States, nearly three people die an hour in alcohol related car, truck, and motorcycle accidents.
4) Teenage boys who drive with BAC levels ranging from 0.05% to 0.10% are nearly 20 times more likely to get into a car crash than are teenage boys who drive sober.
5) Teenage girls who drive within that BAC range are more than 50 times more likely than sober teenage girls to get into a motor vehicle accident.
6) According to various surveys, somewhere between 10% and 12% of all drivers on US roads has consumed some alcohol.
7) One survey suggests that someone with a BAC level of 0.15% (nearly twice California’s legal limit) is nearly 400 times more likely to be killed in a crash than a sober driver.
8) In 2008, there were 3,434 fatalities on California’s roads, of which 1,198 were alcohol related. Of these, 1,029 involved drivers who were driving above the legal limit of 0.08%.
9) 2008’s numbers are actually BETTER than numbers in the past. For instance, in 1987, California’s roads saw 5,504 fatalities, of which 2,961 were alcohol related and 2,354 involved drivers who were driving with a BAC of 0.08% or higher. (These stats come from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).
10) DUI arrests have dropped nearly 50% since the CA State Legislature enacted a law in 1990 that stipulated that the legal limit for BAC would be 0.08%.
11) But Southern California DUI arrests may be on the increase. In 2006, for instance, 197,248 people were arrested for DUI in the state; in 2007, 203,866 people were arrested for DUI.
12) Anecdotal and statistical evidence suggests that the quality of your DUI defense attorney can make a major difference in terms of your sentencing.

If you or a family member has been charged with driving under the influence in Hollywood or elsewhere in Southern California, the choice of your attorney can be incredibly important in terms of your future and finances.

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Dr. Conrad Murray plead not guilty today when he was arraigned at the LAX courthouse in Los Angeles. The doctor to pop star Michael Jackson was charged with Manslaughter in the singer’s death.

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There are two types of manslaughter. The first in voluntary and the second is involuntary. Dr. Murray was charged with involuntary manslaughter. The doctor surrendered at the court hearing. It is reported that members of the Jackson family attended the hearing and were very angry at the charges filed. They believe that his top notch Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney was able to convince the District Attorney to file the simple lower level homicide charges rather then murder charges.

It is evident that the pre-filing criminal defense attorney was able to raise legal issues that made the DA’s Office only file involuntary manslaughter charges. The pressure had been mounting from the Jackson clan to file murder charges. Had Dr. Conrad Murray been charged with the more serious charges, and convicted, then he could have spent the rest of his life behind bars.

Dr, Murray was released on $25,000 bail and he is free to return to his home in Houston, Texas until the next court date.

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