Articles Posted in DUI and Child Endangerment

Our Los Angeles DUI blog reported several weeks ago on a very sad case out of Diamond Bar: 21-year-old Olivia Carolee Culbreath caused a crash on the 60 Freeway early February that killed six people.Culbreath-dui-los-angeles-deaths

Last week, the young woman went to court to answer the judge’s questions – she will be arraigned on May 21. Before causing the awful wreck, Culbreath had been convicted of a DUI in San Bernardino County and cited for traffic violations on two other occasions.

17 separate witnesses said they had seen a driver barreling down the 57 and 60 Freeways going the wrong way, just before the collision. Witnesses said that Culbreath was traveling in excess of 100 miles per hour.

The crash involved Culbreath’s vehicle and two other vehicles. All told, there were only two survivors from the awful wreck – Culbreath herself and Joel Cortez, the driver of one of the other vehicles. Two of Culbreath’s passengers — 21-year-old Kristin Melissa Young, and Culbreath’s sister, 24-year-old Maya — died in the crash. Four people driving a Ford Explorer involved in the crash — Gregorio Megia-Martinez, Leticia Ibarra, Jessica Jasmine Mejia, and Ester Delgado — all died.

Culbreath herself suffered serious injuries, including a ruptured bladder and a broken femur. She is being held on a $6 million bail, and she faces life behind bars. As the judge asked her questions, she allegedly “softly answered” and “did not look towards her family.” Her family members were said to be “disheartened – an obvious reaction, given that one sister had been killed and the other faces a life prison sentence.

Culbreath had to be wheeled into the courtroom on a stretcher, because she still cannot walk due to her injuries.

Obviously, Culbreath’s case is extreme – fortunately, most DUI incidents do not lead to such horrific results. However, if you or a loved one did get into an accident while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you could face vehicular manslaughter or murder charges, depending on your past and what happened during the event.

One of the more serious types of vehicular manslaughter charges is called “gross vehicular manslaughter while DUI” — it is punished per Penal Code Section 191.5(a). Prosecutors have a high burden of proof in such a case. To prove gross negligence, you need to show that what happened was beyond the realm of normal negligence – for instance, you acted in a way that a reasonable person would conclude could cause serious harm or death. (Driving 100 miles per hour the wrong way on a freeway would certainly qualify, per this definition.)

For help defending against your Los Angeles DUI charges — whether you face vehicular manslaughter or much less serious charges — please turn to attorney Michael Kraut of the Kraut Law Group for a free, confidential consultation.

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As someone who was stopped and charged recently with a Los Angeles DUI, you’re probably inherently pretty sympathetic when you read stories about DUI offenses in the paper or

That said, you also resent being “lumped in” with offenders who have committed crimes that you consider to be far more reprehensible than what you allegedly did.

What happens when you drive under the influence with a minor in your car? Short answer: nothing good.

Let’s take a look at two recent examples.

WLTX in South Carolina reports that a 3-year-old boy, Josiah Jenkins, is on life-support, after a suspected DUI crash. Per local police, 43-year-old Lonnie Gross hit Jenkins’ mother’s car on North Springs Road last Friday night at around 10 PM. Authorities charged Gross with felony DUI with great bodily injury as well as with driving on a suspended license. The local police chief – who also happens to be the 3-year-old’s great uncle — says the mother had been traveling to get pizza when the crash happened. The poor child needs a ventilator to stay alive.

Meanwhile, out in Missouri, according to KCTV, 30-year-old, Gianni Henderson, faces a battery of charges, after she allegedly let her infant fall out of a moving car – while she was driving under the influence of alcohol!

Authorities charged her with child endangerment, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, failing to provide proof of insurance and child restraint violations. Per reports, the child fell out of the back seat of the car, when Henderson made a turn onto an onramp. Fortunately, the child survived the incident, thanks to care from a Good Samaritan.

What happens in California if you drive DUI with a minor in your vehicle?

Prosecutors can hit you with charges per CVC 23572, which mandates jail time if you’re convicted of driving DUI with a minor under 14 in your car. Prosecutors also often pursue child endangerment charges per California Penal Code Section 272(a). This charge is technically known as a “wobbler,” which means it can be prosecuted either as a felony or as a misdemeanor.

For help developing a defense to your Los Angeles DUI charges, connect immediately with the team here at the Kraut Law Group for effective, ethical, and comprehensive assistance. Mr. Kraut is a former prosecutor and Harvard Law School educated attorney. He’s often quoted in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Good Morning America about DUI cases.
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We recently reported on a horrifying Los Angeles DUI story: 21-year-old Olivia Carolee Culbreathlos-angeles-DUI-murder allegedly caused a three car accident in Diamond Bar, which killed six people.

California Highway Patrol authorities say Culbreath had been driving in excess of 100 miles per hour, when she crashed her 2013 Camaro on the 60 Freeway while driving the wrong way. It turns out that Culbreath has a checkered driving history. In April 2010, a San Bernardino juvenile court convicted her of DUI in a previous incident. Before she got her license reinstated in December 2011, officers hit her with two other traffic violations. The California Department of Motor Vehicles says the DMV had lifted Culbreath’s license restrictions just a week before the awful, fatal wreck.

Four people in the Ford Explorer she hit — Gregorio Megia Martinez (47), Laticia Ibarra (42), Ester Delgado, and Jessica Jasmine Megia (20) — died. Joel Cortez (57), the driver of the third car involved in the wreck, escaped with just minor injuries. His daughter, Emma Cortez, later told reporters: “he remembers seeing part of an engine that hit him, pushed him against the wall, completely crushing both sides of the car … in shock, the first thing he does is look around. There’s a freeway, two cars completely destroyed. And there are bodies on the floor without heads … this is something you’d see out of a movie.”

In California, certain DUI cases that lead to death can be prosecuted as “Watson Murders.” This charge is the equivalent of second degree murder. If convicted, you face a severe sentence – up to life behind bars. The prosecution must hit a high bar to achieve a conviction.

It’s rare for prosecutors to charge someone with a Watson Murder. The majority of these cases involve people who have been convicted of DUI previously. After you are convicted of a DUI, you must sign a statement — known as a Watson Advisement — in which you acknowledge that you understand that driving DUI can cause people to die.

Prosecutors must also prove that you had “implied malice.” This basically means that you knew the harms of DUI driving, yet you decided to drive DUI anyway; and then you killed someone while behind the wheel.

Whether you face an egregious charge, like Los Angeles DUI manslaughter or murder; or you face a more minor (but still anxiety producing) charge, like misdemeanor DUI, the team here at the Kraut Law Group can provide thorough, sensitive assistance.
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Why do so many Los Angeles DUI defendants trust Attorney Michael Kraut of Kraut Law Group? One reason is that Mr. Kraut spent 14 years “on the other side” as a widely respected, highly accomplished criminal prosecutor. los-angeles-dui-ex-prosecutor.jpg

Here are three reasons why working with an ex-prosecutor makes tons of sense.

1. An ex-Los Angeles DUI prosecutor understands how your prosecutor will think and negotiate.

A baseball coach who actually played pro ball will have insights into the sport other coaches (who never made it to the “The Show”) won’t. Similarly, a nutritionist who heals herself through diet will understand what it’s like to go through diet struggles in ways that her “healthy from the get go” colleagues. Likewise, criminal prosecutors can develop deep insight into the prosecutorial mindset that defense-attorneys-for-life will never have. Sometimes, that intuitive empathy can give an edge.

2. Looking at the law “from both sides” can lead to unique solutions.

Your Los Angeles DUI case is a negotiation, technically speaking. It’s a conversation between your defense team and the prosecution to come up with an effective solution (punitive or otherwise). In any negotiation, stakeholders who invent more options often get better results. A former prosecutor can help invent options that might not be apparent to Los Angeles DUI lawyers who have only practiced defense.

3. Some ex-prosecutors remain very close to their former colleagues, and those relationships can be important.

Attorney Kraut, for instance, currently works as a criminal defense attorney. But he remains well respected by other prosecutors, police officers, et cetera. He uses these relationships (ethically, of course!) to help his clients navigate their complex situations, so that everyone involved wins.

For help with your Los Angeles DUI defense, turn to Harvard Law School educated attorney Kraut.

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Driving under the influence in Burbank (or anywhere else) can have immediate, awful consequences, even if you ultimately clear your name and your record.josh-portis-dui-burbank.jpg

For instance, you could lose your job, get dumped, get kicked out of school, or struggle with business or personal issues because of the DUI.

Case in point, consider the sad situation of the Seattle Seahawks’ (former) quarterback, Josh Portis, who was arrested in early May in Washington State, after police saw him driving 80 miles per hour in a 60 mile per hour zone. The backup QB — who’s known for his deep arm and tireless athleticism — did not exactly pass his field sobriety tests with blazing colors. He also struggled on the breath test. He blew a 0.078% and a 0.092% in two tries. That’s right below and right above the legal limit for Burbank DUI, as defined by California Vehicle Code Section 23152.

As regular readers of our Burbank DUI blog can tell you, the discrepancy between the two readings could actually be pretty important.

Especially when you are dealing with a liminal case (right around the legal limit), small errors can have a big effect. For instance, if Portis blew “harder than normal” into the machine, he might have registered a 0.092% BAC, even if, technically speaking, his BAC was below the 0.08% cutoff point.

Or his results could have been thrown off if he’s on a ketogenic diet, or if he had been swishing mouthwash. Chemicals on the breath can push a liminal BAC reading over the limit.

In any event, even if Portis manages to defend against the DUI misdemeanor charges, he’s out of a job. Portis scrambled to get resigned with the Seahawks in April, after he got released last November from the practice squad. But once news of the DUI hit, the Seahawks released him.

Sports watchers say that the club was at least partially motivated to “teach a lesson” to other players. The Several Seahawks have gotten in trouble recently for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Marshawn Lynch, for instance, also has a DUI case pending.

The Seahawks released Portis before the verdict even came in. That’s telling.

Fortunately, you may still have time to save your job, protect your relationships, avoid a license suspension and minimize/avoid jail time. But the clock is ticking. Your options may be dwindling by the hour.

The good news is that a Burbank DUI criminal defense attorney at the Kraut Law Group is standing by to talk to you about what happened and give you a sound, confidential, free consultation. The Harvard Law School educated Michael Kraut is a widely respected ex-prosecutor who has a deep sense of compassion and an encyclopedic knowledge of the practical aspects of Burbank DUI defense.

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Some breaking Hollywood DUI news. barbara-walters-daughter-dui-hollywood.jpg

Jacqueline Walters Danforth, the 44-year-old daughter of recently retired news anchor Barbara Walters, was recently arrested for DUI in Naples, Florida. According to reports from the New York Daily News and TMZ, Jacqueline and her boyfriend had been driving a Honda Pilot on the highway, when police stopped them for driving without their lights on.

Police described a volatile encounter with Jackie and her male passenger, who appeared to be extremely under the influence. As the police arrested the boyfriend, Jackie apparently “began shouting,” prompting the arresting officer to take action. In his report, he wrote “I was afraid the suspect might run into traffic on the highway, so she was taken to the ground due to her unpredictable behavior, and then secured in handcuffs.”

When the now 44-year-old was a teenager, she got into lots of trouble. She even appeared with her mom on several TV specials to discuss her issues, in the hopes that other parents and troubled kids could learn lessons.

Per the police report, Jackie’s breathalyzer test result was 0.218%. For those of you keeping score, that’s more than 2.5 times (!!) the limit for DUI in Hollywood or anywhere else in California. Shortly after her arrest, she paid her bond of $1000.

Jackie is Barbara Walters’ child with her second husband, Lee Guber. Walter, who discussed Jackie’s difficult childhood and substance abuse issues in her biography, just retired from TV journalism as the host of The View, after a 50-year broadcast career.

Lessons for Other Hollywood DUI Defendants
Being a child of privilege or celebrity does not inoculate you from stress, pain, and bad decision making. In fact, anecdotal evidence (at least) supports the idea that children brought up in the spotlight – i.e., kids who have extremely famous parents – face extra challenges and pressures that can lead to bad decisions and dangerous behavior.

Examples abound. Think about the high profile Los Angeles DUI arrests of people like Lindsay Lohan and Mel Gibson. Or consider the Los Angeles lewd conduct charges against famous grown up child stars, like Macaulay Culkin and Nick Stahl.

The point is that many people arrested for driving under the influence in Hollywood (or elsewhere) deserve kindness and help. Everyone experiences rough spots. And everyone deserves a chance to make amends.

The big question is: how do you do that, safely, ethically, and legally?

In other words, what should you do about your Hollywood DUI charges?

Every case is different. Fortunately, an experienced lawyer at the Kraut Law Group can help you. Mr. Kraut is an ex-prosecutor (14 plus years as a Deputy District Attorney) who maintains close relationships with his ex-prosecutorial colleagues and judges. Connect with attorney Kraut today for insight and a free case evaluation.

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If you’ve recently gotten arrested for driving under the influence in Los Angeles (or elsewhere), stories like the following undoubtedly will make you seethe because they confirm the public’s stereotypes about DUI drivers. son-dad-los-angeles-DUI.jpg

According to The Associated Press, a 10-year-old boy called 911 on his father, claiming that his dad was driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. The young man considered jumping out of his dad’s Mercedes Benz on Interstate 95. His protestations and call to the police did not come in time – the father, 49-year-old Owen Gilman, plowed into a jeep driven by 22-year-old Michael Pernick, injuring Pernick and also causing injuries to the 10-year-old and his 12-year-old sister.

Fortunately, the children were not seriously hurt in the crash.

Pernick was transported to a local hospital, where he was listed in fair condition. The boy is recovering with his mother, Gilman’s ex-wife. He and his sister were reportedly “doing good, considering,” according to a report from The Day of New London. Gilman, meanwhile, was released from jail on a $250,000 bond.

The police gave Gilman a field sobriety test at the scene, which he allegedly failed. They also found marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Gilman was hit with a battery of charges, including alcohol or drug DUI, failure to follow at a reasonable distance, reckless driving, illegal sale of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, second degree vehicular assault, and risk of injury to a minor (two counts).

Lessons for dealing with your Los Angeles DUI Arrest

Whether the police pulled you over on Wilshire and Fairfax, after you and friends attended a wine and cheese at LACMA; or police stopped your son in Burbank, after he sped through a traffic light on Olive, you’re worried. You fear for your reputation and potential punishments. You also want to contextualize the scary incident and to avoid ever getting into a similar situation in the future.

Every driver makes bad judgments, now and again.

Hopefully, yours did not lead to the loss of life or serious injury. But even if you “royally” messed up – like the father in this story apparently did – you have options both to manage your legal crises and to move beyond your Los Angeles DUI. The thorough, experienced team with the Kraut Law Group in Los Angeles has the wherewithal, deep knowledge of Los Angeles DUI law and connections to deliver an effective defense for you. Please connect with our team today to set up a free, confidential discussion about your needs.

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As someone who’s been recently charged with DUI in Long Beach – or who knows a friend or family member recently charged – you might be inclined to be sympathetic to rapper DMX, who was busted for DUI recently in South Carolina. DMX-dui-long-beach.jpg

According to reports, the 42-year-old rapper, who goes by DMX but whose given name is Earl Simmons, was busted near Greenville, South Carolina at around 3 AM Friday morning.

TMZ published dash cam footage of X in the car. The police officer who stopped X inquired about his drinking behavior. X originally said he only had single drink but later apparently confessed to having had four or five.

Confusion reigned after the DUI stop as well.

At first, X’s publicist fervently denied the charges. Dominic Niti told the press: “allegations about DMX being arrested for drunk driving are false … he was arrested early this morning but quickly released. X was given a breathalyzer test and he easily passed it.”

But that’s not what the Southern Carolina Highway Patrol said.

The rapper faces a DUI charge on top of charges that he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and that he didn’t have a driver’s license with him. X has faced a variety of legal challenges recently. In 2008, he was busted in Phoenix for reckless driving and for cruelty to animals. Last year, he got arrested in South Carolina for driving sans a driver’s license.

So how might DMX’s tale of woe influence your quest to deal with your own (or your family member’s) Long Beach DUI charges?

First of all, appreciate that no one is above the law. Even famous rappers, artists, business people, and politicians must follow the law of the land or face unpleasant consequences.

Second of all, appreciate that just because things seem bad right now doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to an unfair sentence or a life of struggle from here on out. The reality is that life is long. You should have opportunities to repair and apologize for the damage that you did and to rebuild your life.

If you haven’t yet connected with a Long Beach DUI defense attorney, like Mr. Kraut of the Kraut Law Group, consider doing so, ASAP. While no attorney can guarantee results, you might be surprised by how much better you’ll feel after getting clear about your potential punishments and options. Mr. Kraut and his team are sensitive and compassionate. They’re also well-known for their aggressive, intelligent approaches to complex Long Beach DUI cases. Connect today to schedule a free and thorough consultation.

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Hopefully, your Beverly Hills DUI story is less dramatic – and less publicly fraught – than Farrah Abraham’s. Farrah-Abraham-DUI-beverly-hills.jpg

The ex-star of MTV’s Teen Mom was pulled over in March for driving under the influence in Nebraska (as this blog and many other media sources reported). At the time, she blew a BAC of 0.147% — that’s nearly twice the legal limit for DUI in Beverly Hills of 0.08%, as outlined in California Vehicle Code Section 23152. In the weeks since, she has piled on an array of excuses. A recent TMZ article tallied them as such:

• People just kept feeding her drinks;
• She was “put in a bad situation” by her sister;
• She was only parking her car, not driving;
• She had a sober friend with her;
• She had a bad cough and couldn’t blow properly.

She pled not guilty to charges of disorderly conduct, refusal to go through a field sobriety test, and DUI. She is due in court on Mary 31st.

Farrah Abraham’s DUI drama is not her only “big news story” – she also inked a deal with Vivid Entertainment to sell a sex tape (or, say observers, a “faux sex tape”) for seven figures. It’s titled: “Farrah Superstar: Backdoor Teen Mom.”

Again, not every Beverly Hills DUI case is as dramatic, fraught, and tabloidy.

But Abraham’s saga has certainly sparked a lot of chatter in the blogosphere and beyond. Is it fair that a woman who behaves so irresponsibly fashion can get rewarded for her outlandish behavior to the tune of $1 million? That’s a question for the pundits and celebrity gossip columnists to debate. But it’s probably a more sophisticated moral debate than meets the eye.

In any event, if you’re someone who faces a DUI in Beverly Hills charge, you probably care less about the tabloid exploits of this teen mom than you do about your own freedom and potential defense strategies:

• Will you lose your license?
• Will you be sent to prison? If so, for how long?
• What can you do to thwart the prosecutor’s charges or at least plead them down to something more manageable and reasonable?

Look to Beverly Hills DUI defense attorney Michael Kraut of Kraut Law Group for assistance with your urgent DUI matter. Mr. Kraut is a widely respected figure in the Los Angeles DUI defense community, and he’s also a Harvard Law School educated ex-prosecutor.

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You just got arrested for DUI in Long Beach. You’re not happy about it. But you’re brave enough to acknowledge the difficulty of your reality. talking-to-kids-about-long-beach-dui.jpg

Although you fear going to jail, losing your license, paying thousands of dollars in court costs and fees, and having to attend alcohol classes for weeks and months, what you fear most of all is talking to your children about what happened to you and why.

How do you broach the subject in an intelligent way that doesn’t make your kids too uncomfortable?

The answer obviously depends on the state of your relationship with your kids, their ages, and your own feelings of comfort about disclosing personal information. There is no one size fits all recipe here.

In some sense, you’re caught between a rock and a hard place:

“The rock” = you’re embarrassed.

Your children may be embarrassed. Your wife/partner/co-parent may be embarrassed. In an ideal world, no one would say anything, and you’d just clear the Long Beach DUI off your record and move on with your lives, as if nothing ever happened.

“The hard place” = lessons must be learned.

On the other hand, you need address reality. Your family needs to plan. If you lose your license or go to jail, your spouse or co-parent will need to pick up responsibilities. Your kids may need to fend for themselves a little more. You might need to call in friends and relatives to help with child care and other household business.

Before you engage in any momentous conversations with your kids, sit down and think through – and even write out – how you’d like the conversation to go. It might seem unnatural to “prescript” an emotional conversation like this. But just like you’d prepare to have an intense business conversation with a prospective client or boss; so, too, can you benefit from preparing to have an intense personal conversation.

Begin with purpose. WHY are you disclosing this information? What is the point in talking about your Long Beach DUI.

For instance, you might need to have this conversation just because the kids’ lives will be radically altered if/when you go to jail. Or you just might want to have the conversation because you fundamentally believe in being honest and open with your kids.

Next, derive the principles that you use to have the conversation. Here is an easy “hack” to derive these. Think about all the ways the conversation could “go wrong.” The opposite elements would make up your principles. For instance, if everyone started yelling and screaming, that would be unpleasant and would violate your principles. So one rule for the conversation would be “keep as calm and emotionally balanced as possible.” You might have 6 to 10 principles that you derive during this exercise.

Finally, imagine the conversation from a place of “best outcome.” In other words, if this conversation went as well as it could go, what would that look like? What would you feel like? What would you do afterwards? Really try to be positive (yes, it’s hard considering your Long Beach DUI arrest!) and imagine a wildly successful result. For instance, maybe your kids would give you a hug, and they would step up in the wake of your trial or license suspension to help out around the house, and you would all grow from the experience.

Of course, you also want to give serious consideration to the next steps in your case. A Long Beach DUI defense attorney with the Kraut Law Group can help you appreciate the charges and challenges ahead and guide you resourcefully and compassionately.

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