DUI Manslaughter

A person who has been arrested for a DUI involving manslaughter needs have the very best legal representation on his side. The cases frequently present complex legal and forensic issues and highly wrought emotions. An accused person needs a legal advocate whose experience and expertise instills confidence and helps to steady the course.

DUI defense lawyer Richard M. Oberto has a legal background that makes him ideally suited to assist clients in DUI cases involving manslaughter. He has taken over thirty combined criminal and civil cases to jury verdict. Many of those cases involved expert testimony and emotionally-laden facts. He has achieved outstanding results for many clients. Mr. Oberto's experience in both criminal and personal injury law has enabled him to gain important insights into forensic and medical evidence. He understands how to evaluate the evidence and find the weaknesses in the opposing party's case.

Penal Code sections 191.5(a) and 191.5(b)

California law defines two types of DUI offenses involving manslaughter. The offenses are identical except that one requires proof of criminal negligence while the other requires proof of ordinary negligence. Gross negligence is considered a more aggravated type of misconduct that ordinary negligence.

Penal Code section 191.5(a) defines DUI Manslaughter with gross negligence. The crime carries a maximum imprisonment term of of four, six, or ten years. The punishment may be greater if a person has a prior manslaughter conviction. Substantial fines and Driver’s License restrictions also apply. A person who has been convicted under section 191.5(a) is not eligible for probation or a suspended sentence.

Penal Code section 191.5(b) defines DUI Manslaughter with ordinary negligence. The crime carries of a maximum imprisonment term of 16 months or two or four years. A person who has been convicted under sections 191.5(b) may be eligible for probation and a suspended sentence.

Elements of Proof in DUI Manslaughter Cases

DUI Manslaughter involving gross negligence and ordinary negligence both require that the prosecution establish four main elements of proof. The first element requires a violation of Vehicle Code section 23152(a), 23152(b), or 23140. Section 23152(a) defines the crime of driving while under the influence. The law defines “under the influence” in terms of impairment. A person must have been so impaired by alcohol, drugs, or a combination thereof that he could not drive with the ordinary caution of a sober driver exercising reasonable care. Section 23152(b) defines the crime of driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 or greater. Section 23140 makes it an infraction for a person younger than 21 to drive with a blood alcohol content of .05 or greater.

The second element of proof in DUI Manslaughter cases is that the accused person committed a misdemeanor, infraction, or otherwise lawful act that might cause death. The third element requires negligence. The degree of negligence that must be proved depends on whether the charge alleges gross or ordinary negligence.

The fourth element of proof in DUI Manslaughter cases is that the accused person's negligent conduct caused the death of another person. The death must have been a “natural and probable consequence” of the negligent act.

Gross Negligence

Gross negligence under Penal Code section 191.5(b) requires that a person acted in a reckless way and created a high risk of death or great bodily injury. The high risk must have been recognizable from the point of view of an ordinary careful person. The accused person must have departed so far from the ordinary care and caution of a reasonable person that his behavior demonstrated a disregard for human life and an indifference to the consequences of his very dangerous behavior.

Ordinary Negligence

Ordinary Negligence under Penal Code section 191.5(b) requires that the accused person failed to act with reasonable care to avoid harm to himself or others. “Reasonable care” is defined according to what ordinary careful person would have done in the same situation.

Richard M. Oberto is an Experienced DUI Defense Attorney

A person arrested for DUI manslaughter should take care to entrust his case to an experienced, talented attorney. Mr. Oberto has the qualifications and is always honored to serve those who need him.

Mr. Oberto welcomes people to contact him 24/7 at (559) 221-2557 to request an initial consultation. Se habla Espanol.

People also may contact Mr. Oberto to request an initial consultation using the contact form available on this website. Please do not use the contact form to write down sensitive information. Information communicated over the internet, including through this website, may not be considered confidential or privileged.

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