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D.C. Homicide by Motor Vehicle Charge Requires Experienced Lawyer

by | Dec 3, 2012

A fatal accident in Maryland has resulted in a 23-year-old spending the next 14 months behind bars.

D.C. DUI lawyers know that it could have been much worse, given the seriousness of the charges against him. Penalties vary widely from state to state. In D.C., DUI motor vehicle homicide can result in up to 30 years in prison. In Maryland, it’s up to five years. In Virginia, you could serve up to 20 years and in Pennsylvania, where this defendant is from, one could serve up to 10 years.

According to the State Attorney’s Office in Hartford County, MD, the defendant pleaded guilty to one count of marijuana possession and one count of negligent homicide by motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana.

The 23-year-old defendant reportedly caused the accident early last December. There was a heavy amount of fog that morning, around 5 a.m., and police believe the defendant, driving a Nissan Xterra, drifted over the yellow line of the two-lane road. Traveling in the opposite direction was a 41-year-old man driving a Chevrolet Cavalier.

It was estimated that that the defendant was traveling at speeds of between 50 to 60 miles per hour at the time of the crash.

The victim’s vehicle reportedly spun numerous times before coming to rest on a guardrail. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Both the defendant and his passenger were treated for injuries, though they were not serious. His blood alcohol content was measured several hours later at 0.17 percent. That is more than twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

Part of what likely played a role in the defendant’s reduced sentence was the fact that he had no prior criminal history. In fact, the prosecutor was asking for 18 months behind bars. The judge decided to meet somewhere in between. He imposed the full five-year maximum sentence – suspending all but 14 months of that sentence.

What that means is that he will serve 14 months in prison, after which time he will be released and placed on probation for five years. If he violates the terms of his probation within that five years, he could be sent back to prison to serve out the rest of the five-year term.

Additionally, he was ordered to pay nearly $14,000 in restitution.

D.C. Statute 22-2105 and 50-2203.02 address DUI manslaughter and negligent homicide. Although the former carries a 30-year sentence, as we mentioned before, negligent homicide carries a maximum of 5 years in prison, plus the possibility of a $5,000 fine. Both are felonies.

One of the tactics defense attorneys can take in these situation is to negotiate a plea deal wherein someone charged with DUI manslaughter could instead plead guilty to the lesser negligent homicide, therefore reducing their penalty significantly.

But pleading isn’t the only option, and we are dedicated to examining every aspect and piece of evidence in your case to determine whether you have a good chance of winning at trial.

If you are facing DUI charges in D.C., contact the Scrofano Law, PC for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights or fill out our online contact form. Visa, Mastercard and Discover cards accepted. Call 202-765-3175.