Articles Tagged with homicide

If you have been charged with vehicular manslaughter or vehicular homicide, it means that, as the person charged with the crime, you have been deemed responsible for someone’s death.  While you certainly did not intend for things to turn out this way—you were behaving foolishly, and things got out of control—someone is dead, and the state is devoted to making you pay. 

What is Vehicular Manslaughter?

Negligence is the underlying principle of vehicular manslaughter charges. It involves drivers who do dumb things behind the wheel when they should know better. Maybe a driver drove too fast through a neighborhood or on a freeway. Perhaps someone juiced the gas in order to get through an intersection even though the light had turned red. Or possibly a driver took just a few seconds to type out a text message while behind the wheel. Drivers who take these kinds of chances can be dangerous on the road, and when their behavior results in a fatality, criminal charges are likely to follow. A misdemeanor conviction could mean up to 12 months behind bars. However, vehicular manslaughter could be charged as a felony if gross negligence is found to have occurred.  In that case, the penalties are much stiffer—up to six years in state prison. Your driver’s license could also be revoked for three years.

Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated

When someone is under the influence of alcohol exceeding state limits of 0.08% (or 0.05% for individuals under age 21) or is under the influence of mind-altering drugs, and that person winds up in an accident that kills someone, they could wind up facing misdemeanor or felony charges,  depending on the level of negligence associated with the accident. Under the best of circumstances, a guilty verdict could result in anywhere from a year to three years in the county jail. Felony charges could land a suspect in prison for as long as 10 years.

DUI Murder

California law gets even more punitive when repeating DUI offenders are involved in fatal accidents or when previous DUI offenders have been advised as to the dangers of driving while drunk (the Watson Advisement). The law is based on a case involving a drunk driver–Watson– who killed two people as a repeat DUI offender.  It has set a precedent in California that means individuals in circumstances similar to Watson’s can be charged with second-degree murder, which could put offenders in prison for 25 years to life.

What a Conviction Could Mean for You

How does life change for someone charged with these kinds of crimes? Despite feeling overwhelming angst at having had a part in someone’s death, the courts will further punish offenders found guilty. Imprisonment for any length of time could change life forever, impacting family relationships, current and future employment, and quality of life for you and your family.  Without question, a strong defense is essential going forward.  Continue reading

The terms ‘murder’ and ‘homicide’ are sometimes used interchangeably as if they mean the same thing. In the legal world, however, the meanings of ‘murder’ and ‘homicide’ are quite different. Because of this, the way that a person is sentenced if they are convicted of murder or homicide will vary.

The one thing these two terms have in common is that whether a murder or a homicide was committed, the outcome is the same. Another person loses their life. Murder and homicide are some of the most serious crimes that go to court. These criminal acts often result in the harshest penalties.

If you live in or around the greater San Diego area and you were arrested for allegedly killing another person, it is in your best interest to immediately connect with a San Diego homicide attorney. Working with an experienced San Diego criminal defense attorney will improve your chances of beating your charges or having them lessened. 

Last year, San Diego had the lowest violent crime rates in four decades. According to a study conducted by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), however, homicides were up. This violent crime remained steady from 2017 to 2018 and is on-trend with the rest of the country.

In San Diego County alone, there were 87 homicides in 2018, seven more than in 2017. With the rate of homicide remaining steady in San Diego, there are many reasons or motives as to why homicides are happening. Today, we will explore those reasons, but first we need to see what California law says about homicide.

Homicide Defined in California

The California Penal Code Chapter 1 discusses homicide. CA Penal Code 187 defines murder as the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought. A homicide includes murder – the most aggravated type of homicide. Malice aforethought means the act of killing was intentional.

Motive Matters in Homicide Cases

While the act of killing must be intentional for homicide, motive typically explains why homicide was committed. Motive is not the same as intent but it matters in homicide cases such as in the example below:

An article in the Morning Call reports that a hearing in San Diego cop-killing death penalty case is set to start on Monday, June 24, 2019. The case involves a man being charged with murder with a special-circumstance allegation of killing a peace officer, attempted murder, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The prosecutor will begin presenting evidence that the man performed the act of shooting. The defense is expected to argue that the evidence falls short of proving the man pulled the trigger that night. The man could face the death penalty if he is convicted of murdering a police officer.

Sometimes it can be difficult to prove motive and intent. This is why in violent crime cases, the parties’ arguments include reasons why the crime was committed (motive) and also seek to prove whether the crime was meant to be committed (intent). 

Common Homicide Motives Revealed

SANDAG reports that in 2018, motive could be determined for 64 of 87 of the homicides by the time of publishing their May 2019 report. Below are common motives for homicide, according to SANDAG’s report:

  • Argument (45%)
  • Domestic Violence (16%)
  • Gang-Related (13%)
  • Robbery (6%)
  • Drugs (6%)

The other 14% included one each related to child abuse, financial gain, alcohol, and four that were not specified. 

Do You Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

If you or someone you know in the San Diego or Southern California area is facing homicide and murder charges, contact David Boertje, a San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer. Mr. Boertje is an experienced murder and criminal defense attorney and has been practicing criminal defense in San Diego County since 2003. He has successfully handled hundreds of criminal cases. Continue reading

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