DUI Homicide: Watson Murder
If you drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and someone dies as a result of your conduct, you can be charged with DUI second-degree murder under California Penal Code section 187, which is the most serious felony DUI charge.
In order for the court to convict you of second-degree murder using the Watson Murder rule, prosecutors must prove 3 things:
- You committed an intentional act that caused the death of another person;
- The natural consequences of that act are dangerous to human life; and
- You knowingly and intentionally acted in such a way that disregarded human life.
The main difference between second-degree murder and first-degree murder is that first-degree murder involves a killing that is premeditated and deliberate, while second-degree murder stems from a reckless disregard for human life.
The prosecution must show that you were aware that the act of driving while under the influence (DUI) is dangerous to human life. If you have prior DUI convictions on your record, the prosecution may try to use that as evidence that you are aware of the dangers of driving a motor vehicle while intoxicated. Following a prior DUI conviction, you may have signed a form that included the Watson Murder Admonition, which states the dangers of driving a vehicle while under the influence and that someone may be killed as a result of your actions. Additionally, if you attended DUI classes in the past, prosecution may use that as evidence. However, if you did not adhere to the Watson Admonition or attend DUI classes, the prosecution may have a difficult time proving that you were aware of the severity of your actions because this assumes your mental state at the time of the incident.
Penalties if convicted of a Watson Murder charge
If you are convicted of a DUI second-degree Watson murder, the penalties can include from 15 years to life in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, restitution to the families of the deceased, and a strike on your record underthe California Three Strikes Law. These penalties may increase based on the number of deaths you caused, if you left seriously injured survivors, as well as a number of other factors.
- California’s Three Strikes Law imposes more strict sentences on habitual offenders. A second serious felony conviction mandates a prison sentence of twice the term otherwise provided for the crime. A third serious or violent conviction mandates a prison sentence of 25 years to life.
Defending yourself against a Watson Murder charge
When you call on the experienced criminal defense attorneys we will use our extensive knowledge of California law to get the best possible outcome for you when charged with a Watson Murder. The circumstances of your case may provide us with a solid course of action involving questioning the facts of your field sobriety test, proving that your actions were not the cause of death, or proving that you did not have implied malice. In addition, we may be able to argue that you were not at fault in the accident. If you never signed a form stating your understanding of the dangerous actions of driving under the influence, or did not complete DUI school after a prior conviction, it could be difficult for the prosecution to prove implied malice, thus reducing the charges to manslaughter. In manslaughter cases, the prosecution would need to show negligence in your decisions, not malice.
A second-degree murder charge following a DUI accident is an incredibly serious situation and you need the best defense team available to ensure that your rights are protected. The experienced DUI defense team at our officewill represent you and seek the best possible outcome.
Contact our office today at 619-535-7150 for a FREE DUI consultation.