When Can a Felony DUI Result in Murder Charges?

A felony DUI is a serious charge which carries stiff penalties in Idaho. You may be able to fight the charge with the help of a good felony DUI attorney. However, the defense will depend heavily on the available evidence, your previous conduct and record, and a number of other factors.

The penalties of a felony DUI charge are extensive. You may face a minimum period behind bars and be required to pay a fine. In addition, you will also lose driving privileges for a specified period. In some cases, the judge may further require you to install an ignition interlock device in all the vehicles you drive for a year or more.

It is possible to plead for lower penalties if you enroll in a rehabilitation program, opt for community service, and overall demonstrate genuine remorse and willingness to reform. However, your options become limited if you already have multiple DUI offense on your record. If you also cause a crash which results in the death of a person, the charges against you become elevated. A prosecutor may then charge you with vehicular manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, or even first-degree felony murder.

DUI and Fatal Crashes

Idaho sees a large number of impaired driving crashes every year. In 2016, the total number of impaired driving crashes stood at 1,535. These resulted in a total of 88 fatalities.

The extreme charges listed above are typically brought in a DUI case when your actions result in the death of another person. The precise charge that will be brought against you depends on other factors. A first-degree felony murder charge is brought when the prosecution can show that the DUI driver showed utter indifference to human life and acted with extreme recklessness.

Legally, a felony murder charge can be brought when a person who is committing a serious felony acts in such a way as to cause someone’s death. So if you are committing felony DUI and cause a fatal crash, the charge can be elevated to first-degree murder.

However, a felony DUI with a fatal crash does not always result in a murder charge. This is because a murder charge is relatively harder to prove and the prosecution must show an indifference to human life on the part of the accused. In such cases if a felony DUI involves a fatality, the prosecution may bring up a vehicular manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter charge.

Involuntary Manslaughter and Vehicular Manslaughter

These two charges are also commonly used by the prosecution in DUI cases involving the death of a person. A DUI driver can be charged with involuntary manslaughter if he or she is found guilty of causing another person’s death while performing something reckless. The risk posed to other people by a drunken driver is obvious, and easier to prove in a court of law. So in a fatal DUI crash, an involuntary manslaughter charge will be easier to prove for the prosecution.

Vehicular manslaughter is another charge that is frequently used in fatal DUI crashes. Unlike involuntary manslaughter which has a broader scope, vehicular manslaughter applies specifically to reckless actions which involve a vehicle and result in the death of someone.

Aggravating Factors

The law gives prosecution a lot of room to determine precisely which charges shall be brought in the event of a DUI involving a death. The prosecution’s decision will depend on many factors. These include the willingness of the defendant to cooperate in the proceedings of the case, the availability of relevant evidence, the previous criminal history and record of the defendant, and so on.

Murder charges are usually brought if the driver has a previous criminal history which indicates a lack of respect for the sanctity of human life. A lack of remorse on the part of the defendant may also move the prosecution to pursue such extreme charges.

How Can a Felony DUI Lawyer Help?

If you have been charged with felony DUI, it is important to get the legal help of an experienced lawyer. Not all felony DUI charges are fair and it takes a good lawyer to defend you against such charges.

Here at Hooper Law Offices, we believe that everyone has a right to justice. This is why we work closely with you to help you plead for lower penalties in a felony DUI case. We also help the court see your remorse and willingness to mend ways in order to seek reduced charges. Call us today to book a free consultation with our attorneys.

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