Articles Tagged with dui vehicular manslaughter

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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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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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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 Criminal & DUI Lawyers for a free consultation.
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