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dui-manslaughterLos Angeles DUI manslaughter charges are incredibly serious but also surprisingly diverse.

Let’s say you’ve never driven DUI before, and you didn’t engage in an act of gross negligence, like driving 100 miles the wrong way on the freeway. But you did get into a DUI accident that caused someone to die. You could still go to jail for a long time, lose your license, and face an array of other punishments.

However, prosecutors could try to convince the court that you engaged in a more serious crime — “gross vehicular manslaughter” — which can lead to even steeper punishments.

And if you had been convicted of a prior DUI — and you had signed a document known as a Watson Advisement, which indicates that you understand the lethality of driving DUI –prosecutors can even go after you for an even more intense count, known as DUI Murder.

Bearing that in mind, let’s reflect on a tragic case in Anaheim. On October 18, a 10-year-old boy died in a multi-car DUI-related collision at North Euclid Street and West Oklahoma Avenue, per Anaheim Police Department reports. A black pickup truck smashed into the boy’s Toyota Camry from behind, throwing the vehicle into another car. Everyone in the Camry suffered critical injuries, and the 10-year-old boy died at a local hospital. Los Angeles police later arrested Gary S. Hunt, the driver of the black pickup truck.

The accident moderately injured the driver of the third car.

Whether Hunt actually had been under the influence of alcohol or not, he could face serious criminal and civil charges. The media coverage understandingly focuses on the awful tragedy that befell Ramirez and his family, but it’s important to appreciate that DUI crashes also devastate the lives of people charged with crimes.

For instance, perhaps Hunt also has children, who now may be forced to deal with the fact that their dad could go to prison for many years.

To respond conscientiously, compassionately and effectively to complex criminal charges, contact a Los Angeles DUI injury defense attorney at the Kraut Law Group right now to schedule a consultation with former prosecutor, Michael Kraut.

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bus-driver-dui-los-angelesObviously, we are of the opinion that the crime of driving under the influence in Los Angeles is a complex issue and that many people who stand accused of this charge need compassion and insight as opposed to punishment and neglect.

However, we also deeply believe in protecting our community and making sure that the roads are safe for everyone. The whole point of what we aim to do (and also what police officers and prosecutors aim to do) is to make our city safe and livable.

To wit, the arrest of 59-year-old Robert E. Murphy of Ashland, Massachusetts raises profound questions about how and when convicted DUI drivers should be allowed to engage in certain types of commercial driving activity.

Mr. Murphy was a school bus driver who had been convicted twice of DUI. Police just arrested him yet again for allegedly driving DUI with a bus full of high school age cross-country athletes. According to local reports from the Boston Herald, police arrested him Saturday evening in the parking lot of a local high school after a coach alerted authorities. Police put Murphy through a series of field sobriety tests and arrested him on charges of operating a motor vehicle to endanger and a third DUI offense.

Obviously, Murphy’s story is less dramatic than the tale we covered a few weeks ago about the Utah bus driver who allegedly drove DUI for nearly 40 miles on the freeway, weaving around the road, while carrying elementary school kids.

In both Murphy’s case and the case of the Utah bus driver, no kids suffered injuries, fortunately.

Murphy’s arrest raises questions about how and when convicted DUI drivers should be allowed to engage in commercial driving again. Imagine you’re a truck driver or a bus driver who has no job skills other than your commercial driving ability. What if you lose your driving privileges because of the DUI? How would you earn a living? If you got your driving privileges back, how could you ensure that you won’t make similarly dangerous decisions again?

These and other questions can keep you up at night. Fortunately, you don’t have to ponder them all alone. The team here at the Kraut Law Group can help you establish an effective plan to deal with your charges and rebuild your life. Call a Los Angeles DUI defense attorney at the Kraut Law Group right now to schedule a consultation with an ex-prosecutor about your strategy.

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Murrieta-Mayor-Alan-Long-DUIA Los Angeles DUI charge can have powerful and immediate ramifications, whether you’re a public figure or not.

Witness, for instance, the fast fall of Murrieta Mayor Alan Long, who had to resign recently after he caused an alleged DUI crash that injured four students. The 44-year-old had been driving on Jefferson Avenue in a large truck last Thursday at 8 P.M., when he hit a vehicle driven by four high school students.

Long had served as a Battalion Chief with the Anaheim Fire Department, but his knowledge and understanding of road safety did not prevent him from failing his field sobriety tests (at least per police reports) and demonstrating what authorities said were “signs and symptoms consistent with alcohol impairment.”

Long contends that he had consumed alcohol but did not cross the legal limit of 0.08%. He made a bail of $5,000 and has not yet formally been charged. Rescue workers took the four students from Murrieta Valley High School to local hospitals for treatment for an array of injuries.

Long won election in November 2010 by a landslide. But even though he hasn’t been formally charged with a DUI injury count, he had to resign his political position.

Each charge of injuring someone while driving DUI can lead to a felony conviction and a jail sentence of at least a year, per California Vehicle Section 22153. Prosecutors also do not necessarily need to show that Long had been over the 0.08% BAC mark to convict him for the felony counts.

Defending against injury DUI charges can be an incredibly fraught and complex business. Protect your rights by getting good insight from a qualified Los Angeles DUI defense attorney, like Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group. Mr. Kraut is an ex-prosecutor: as a Deputy District Attorney, he racked up a 99% success rate in jury trials. Continue reading →

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repeat-dui-offender-has-funTo defend against a Los Angeles DUI charge effectively — particularly if you actually committed a crime — you want to express remorse at the appropriate time. You need to show that you understand that what you did was dangerous and could have resulted in severe injuries or even the loss of life.

What you DON’T want to do is to brag that you are “going to do it again,” like Willissa Harris allegedly told police in Tulsa, after she smashed into a cable barrier on a local freeway, Highway 75. According to local media, after Harris hit the barrier, police helped her out of her vehicle and observed that she had red, bloodshot, glassy eyes and slurred speech – classic signs of DUI.

Per reports, Harris had been arrested twice prior for DUI, and she decided to chat with the police about her background on the way to the station. They recorded her apparently self-incriminating statements: she told police that she enjoyed “doing this” [causing the DUI wreck] and that she intended to “do it again.” Police took her to the Tulsa County Jail for processing.

Obviously, it’s no secret that people do and say very dumb things after being stopped for DUI – we’ve come back to this theme again and again on this blog. But there are limits to how and when you can self-incriminate. For instance, let’s say the police fail to read your Miranda Rights — these include the caveat that “anything you say or do can be held against you in the court of law.” If so, you can fight back against the charges by making the argument that the court shouldn’t consider any self-incriminating statements that you made because police didn’t remind you of your rights before you said them.

The court will assess your complete history, including both admissible statements that you have made and your actions. In Harris’s case, the fact that she has two DUIs under her belt will probably matter more than the fact that she boasted under duress that she was “going to do it again.”

If you or someone you love needs to defend effectively against a similarly complex suite of charges, please call an experienced Los Angeles DUI criminal defense attorney at the Kraut Law Group immediately to schedule a free consultation with highly respected former prosecutor Michael Kraut

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adam-hill-dui-murderDriving under the influence of drugs in Los Angeles is a dangerous crime, as even a child could tell you. But what distinguishes a “run of the mill” drug DUI from an arrest that leads to a second degree murder conviction and a 17 year-to-life jail sentence?

The answer is: the circumstances.

Consider, for instance, the nightmarish series of events that unfolded on the morning of February 13, 2011. Adam Harrison Hall spun out of control in his Ford SUV, smashed into a Toyota SUV at a red light, injuring the occupants, then veered onto the sidewalk and hit and killed 40-year-old Mara Steves, who had been walking a lost labrador retriever.

Hall allegedly killed a pedestrian and caused a massive wreck that led to other injuries… AND he had two prior DUI convictions.

In Southern California, after you get convicted of a DUI, you receive what’s known as a Watson Advisement. This is basically a “last warning” that affirms that you understand that driving DUI can lead to severe injury and death. People who receive the Watson Advisement and then later go on to commit another DUI crime and kill someone can be charged with DUI murder, also known as a “Watson Murder” because of the eponymous advisement.

In any event, Hall apparently had nearly a pharmacy’s worth of drugs in his system, including morphine, amphetamine, temazepam, oxazepam, hydroxyalprazolam, alprazolam, nordiazepam, diazepam, and methamphetamine as well as THCA. In February this year, a jury found Hall guilty of a smorgasbord of charges, including misdemeanor drug DUI, two felony counts of obtaining drugs via a forged prescription, one felony prescription forgery charge, and of course one felony murder count. Hall had appealed the verdict, because he argued his trial attorney had been inadequate and that the prosecution did not have enough evidence to prove that he had been the driver burning through the red light. But the three justices disagreed and upheld the murder conviction.

If you or some you love faces a severe charge, like DUI manslaughter or murder, call a qualified, compassionate Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer with the Kraut Law Group to get effective insight into your possible options.

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sex-after-dui-los-angelesImagine in your mind the worst things you could do after being arrested for driving under the influence in Los Angeles.

You could, for instance, assault the police officer, make self incriminating comments after hearing your Miranda’s Rights, or commit sundry other crimes, offenses and misjudgments. But it is pretty hard to top what a 33-year old man and 29-year old woman from Oconto County, Wisconsin allegedly did last week.

Heather Basten and Travis Husnik allegedly started having sexual intercourse in the back of a police car while being driven to jail after a DUI stop and arrest. County Circuit Court Judge Riley later wryly noted: “what do I sentence a guy who had sex in a squad car to?” The judge later charged Husnik and Basten with lewd and lascivious behavior and disorderly conduct. The arresting officer apparently forced Husnik to get out of the backseat and sit in the front seat next to him, so he and Basten wouldn’t paw at each other during the ride.

Unfortunately, as we’ve discussed again and again and again on this blog, people arrested for driving under the influence often do silly or dumb things after the fact that create extra hassles and legal complications for themselves. In more serious cases, for instance, a DUI driver might leave the scene of an injury accident and wind up with a felony hit and run charges to go hand in hand with a felony DUI injury charge.

So what can you do to manage your crisis?

First: call an experienced and qualified Los Angeles DUI criminal defense attorney, like Michael Kraut of the Kraut Law Group. Mr. Kraut is a widely respected former prosecutor who maintains excellent relationships with his former prosecutorial colleagues as well as with police officers and judges in Los Angeles. Please contact him today for a free consultation.

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full-moon-duiOne of the consistent themes we’ve discussed on this Los Angeles DUI defense blog is the tragic observation that drivers often make their legal situations far, far worse after getting stopped for DUI. We’ve covered stories about drivers who have attacked police, driven off in a panicked rage from a stop, and even charged through DUI checkpoints.

Unfortunately, one “bad night” can lead to a series of criminal charges, which can land you in jail for many months or even years, depending on what you did, whom you hurt, and whether you have a criminal record. To wit, consider the case of 49-year old Michele Ann Rivera of Coral Springs, Florida. Per a local paper, she and her husband, Stancel Ganus Kinsley, 68, had been driving home from Kinsley’s birthday in the early afternoon on Sunday, when some kind of “road rage” incident broke out. One motorist called the police and reported that Rivera had been winding all over the road on North University Drive in her Toyota 4Runner.

Allegedly, the 49-year-old got out from the driver seat and screamed at a driver for tailgating her. Meanwhile, Kinsley took the driver seat. Police alerted by the ruckus determined that both Kinsley and Rivera had symptoms of DUI, including bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and a distinct smell of alcohol. Authorities also allegedly found an open bottle of Vodka in her purse. Police put her through the paces of field sobriety tests, which she allegedly couldn’t complete. Police then arrested both her and Kinsley for DUI, at which time she apparently became abrasive and loud and mooned a police officer, yelling “this is the best you will ever have.”

In Los Angeles, if you are arrested more than three times in a 10-year period for driving under the influence, authorities can charge you with a felony, even if you committed what would ordinarily only be a misdemeanor DUI. To protect your rights and make smart strategic choices about your Los Angeles DUI defense, contact a lawyer with the Kraut Law Group immediately to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

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dui-motorcycle-wreck-los-angelesWhen it comes to Los Angeles DUI crashes, authorities often implicate drivers who test to have illegal blood alcohol levels after a collision. However, authorities sometimes struggle to determine fault in cases involving multiple variables.

A September 21 accident in Santa Ana provides an example of how DUI crashes can occur due to other factors besides a driver’s alcohol-related impairment. The incident – a combination of two crashes – left a motorcyclist dead and another driver injured.

The series of crashes began when a motorcyclist collided with the back of a car on southbound 55. After veering off the freeway and striking a chain-link fence, the motorcyclist flew from his vehicle, landing on adjacent Ritchey Street.

As a good Samaritan approached the motorcyclist, Jesus Mendoza Hernandez struck both individuals, severely injuring the Samaritan and killing the motorcyclist. Hernandez now faces DUI driving charges; whether authorities will charge him with DUI manslaughter or DUI murder remains unclear.

Factors that Can Complicate DUI Accidents

The tragic accidents in Santa Ana highlight how aggravating circumstances can complicate a DUI accident. Considerations making it more difficult to assign responsibility include:

•    Multiple drivers. The more vehicles collide in an accident, the more complicated questions of liability become.

•    Two DUI drivers. Although uncommon, when both drivers involved in a collision are over the legal limit, the case can lead to surprising complexities.

•    Unusual intersections. Intersections with confusing traffic patterns – or those lacking adequate lighting or signage – often increase the likelihood of accidents, DUI or not.

Even when your Los Angeles DUI case involves one or more of the above complexities, simply having a blood alcohol level above the legal limit places extra responsibility on your shoulders. An experienced defense attorney with an understanding of California DUI laws can analyze the circumstances of your case to determine how to help you form a defense. Contact the Kraut Law Group today to schedule a free consultation.

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injury-DUI-los-angeles-4Among the most severe Los Angeles DUI offenses are those causing injury to passengers or other drivers. As a San Diego man recently discovered, the consequences of a DUI-related crash can last for several years – or a lifetime.

On September 19, a judge sentenced Daniel Castro to nine years and eight months in prison for a felony DUI that led to the serious injury of another driver. The third conviction for Castro came after he jumped bail, escaping to Ensenada, Mexico.

The accident occurred on May 22, 2013, when an intoxicated Castro drove the wrong way down Interstate 5, crashing head-on into 29-year-old Jessica Creed’s Ford Fusion. Creed sustained extensive injuries, including a severed arm, broken pelvis, shattered facial bones, and fractured vertebrae.

According to the judge, Castro failed to show remorse, character, or courage during the court case. As a result, he earned the maximum sentence allowable under California law.

How Authorities Punish Repeat DUI Offenders and DUI with Injury

When individuals receive multiple concurrent DUI convictions or injure others, the consequences increase significantly. For repeat DUIs, these can include:

•    Increased jail time. From 48 hours for a first-time offense to 3 years for a fourth or subsequent offense, continued DUIs often lead to more time behind bars.

•    Driver’s license suspension. Each DUI conviction leads to an additional year during which the individual can lose his or her license.

•    Fines. The amount a person must pay in fines and court fees can increase with each subsequent conviction.

When a DUI includes an injury to another driver or passenger, the related charge automatically becomes a felony, per California Vehicle Code 23153. These charges generally lead to more prison time, forced restitution for victims, job loss, and other life-altering repercussions.

If a pending DUI case with repeat offenses or injuries threatens to destroy your life, contact a qualified Los Angeles DUI attorney at the Kraut Law Group today to set up a free consultation.

 

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firefighter-DUIWhen it comes to DUI in Los Angeles, uniformed men and women can be either victims or perpetrators. Recent incidents in Carlsbad, California, and Lexington, Kentucky, shed light on this dichotomy.

Jarad McCargo, a firefighter in Lexington, lost his job September 22 as a result of an accident in which he struck three people with his vehicle while allegedly under the influence. The 36-year-old reportedly backed his Ford Expedition into a local bar, The Beer Trap, critically injuring Noel Espino and hitting two others. After the collision, he fled the scene and hid behind several trash cans before police located and arrested him. McCargo’s charges include:

•    Driving under the influence
•    First-degree assault
•    Leaving the scene of an accident
•    Driving without insurance

Conversely, the Carlsbad community continues to honor two Oceanside California Highway Patrol officers who lost their lives to DUI drivers recently. On September 20, police set up a DUI checkpoint on Carlsbad Boulevard to identify potentially impaired drivers.

While the checkpoint served to raise awareness regarding the dangers of DUI driving, authorities also dedicated it to the memory of two officers:

•    Officer Sean Nava. Nava died in October 2000 when a DUI driver struck him as he responded to a DUI crash.

•    CHP Officer Stephen Linen. A DUI driver collided with Linen’s patrol car on Interstate 5 only months after Nava’s death, killing the officer.

Officers and bereaved family members alike hope the memorial checkpoint will cause people to think twice about driving under the influence and hold their friends and loved ones accountable.

Regardless of your professional background, injuring or killing another person when driving drunk is a devastating offense for everyone involved. The potential repercussions for your freedom and future are severe, but an experienced Los Angeles DUI attorney can help. Contact the Kraut Law Group today to discuss your case and begin forming your defense.

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