Accident DUI Resulting in Death

Drunk Driving Defense Lawyer Serving People in the Phoenix Area

Drunk driving is taken seriously in Arizona, particularly if it results in death. There is no specific law to address an accident DUI resulting in death. However, there are different theories under which criminal charges based on fatal DUIs may be pursued. These are theories that penalize homicide, even though they do not address the drunk driving. Prosecutors may pursue both a DUI and a homicide charge. If you are being investigated for an accident DUI resulting in death, you should consult Phoenix DUI attorney James E. Novak. Mr. Novak has prior experience as a prosecutor and can put his insights to work for you, crafting a strong defense strategy and fighting for you in negotiations or at trial.

Accident DUI Resulting in Death

If your DUI causes an accidental death, prosecutors may pursue a negligent homicide charge, a manslaughter charge, or a second-degree murder charge. These charges may be pursued alongside a DUI charge, whether the DUI involves alcohol, prescription drugs, or illegal drugs. Defendants who perpetrate more than one crime at once can face separate consequences for each crime that is committed, such that prison sentences may need to be served consecutively, one after another, rather than concurrently. The earlier that an attorney gets involved in defending you, the more likely it is that they can persuade the prosecutor to pursue charges that carry a lighter sentence.

Under Arizona Revised Statutes section 13-1102, you can be convicted of negligent homicide if, with criminal negligence, you cause the death of someone else, including an unborn child. To get a conviction for negligent homicide, the prosecutor will need to show that you perpetrated a criminally negligent act that resulted in the victim's death. Drunk driving is considered a criminally negligent act, and if the prosecutor can prove that you drove drunk beyond a reasonable doubt, and this drunk driving caused a death, it may be possible to secure a conviction. For example, if you were drunk driving and hit a pregnant woman's car, and the woman survived, but the fetus died, you could be charged with negligent homicide. As a class 4 felony, a negligent homicide conviction can be punished by up to 3.75 years' imprisonment.

A manslaughter charge is more serious. Manslaughter happens when somebody knowingly perpetrates a deadly crime, not intending to cause a fatality. To prove that you perpetrated manslaughter, the prosecutor will need to show recklessness. Drunk driving may constitute recklessness. Manslaughter is a class 2 felony, and if you are convicted, you can be punished with up to 12.5 years in prison.

One of the most serious charges that prosecutors can pursue if there is an accident DUI resulting in death is second-degree murder. This is one of the most serious types of felonies, and a conviction can result in a long period of imprisonment. Second-degree murder happens when somebody perpetrates an act knowing that it would result in the death of somebody else, but without planning to do so. Usually, second-degree murder is charged when an extreme or super extreme DUI has resulted in somebody's death. Second-degree murder can be punished with 16 years to life imprisonment.

Sometimes people leave the scene of a fatal accident. It is a violation of Arizona Revised Statute section 28-661, 28-662, or 28-663 to commit a hit and run. If you leave the scene of a DUI accident in which you caused someone's death, it is likely that the prosecutor will pursue charges against you aggressively, and you may face harsher charges.

Consult a DUI Defense Attorney in the Phoenix Area

Drunk driving accidents that result in death can lead to harsh criminal penalties, as well as a civil wrongful death lawsuit. If you are being investigated by law enforcement for an accident DUI resulting in death, you should speak to a skillful criminal defense attorney. James E. Novak represents defendants throughout the Phoenix area, including in Tempe, Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, Scottsdale, and elsewhere in Maricopa County. Contact James Novak at (480) 413-1499 or via our online form.

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