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DUI Manslaughter Confession on YouTube Goes Viral

by | Sep 9, 2013

Few things prove quite as arresting as the large white words: “I killed a man,” on a dark background, shaded by the fuzzy outline of scar-streaked arms and folded hands.

Our D.C. DUI defense lawyers know this was exactly the scene depicted in a YouTube confessional video by a man suspected of DUI manslaughter in Ohio.

His public confession will prove the nail in the coffin to his case. But the unveiling of the professionally-produced video has been controversial.

On one side, there are those who applaud the defendant’s “bravery” in owning up to his crime, particularly as he says in the video that some lawyers advised him he could probably have the charges reduced if he lied.

There are those on the other side who say his confessional was a ploy to publicly throw himself at the mercy of the court, an act of contrition more geared toward eliciting a favorable ruling from the judge.

While the latter may ultimately prove true in this case, such a move could equally prove to be ill-advised. Indeed, the defendant’s lawyer says he had no prior knowledge that his client had teamed up with social policy advocates at Because I Said I Would, a group that says it is dedicated to “bettering humanity through the power of promise.”

No attorney should ever advise a client to lie. On the other hand, going rogue, as this defendant did, is an extreme gamble. If it was a ploy to get less time, there’s a strong possibility it may not work out that way for him, as he’s essentially gift-wrapped the case for the prosecution.

According to media reports, the 61-year-old driver of a Jeep was struck by a wrong-way driver on the highway in June. The crash happened around 3 a.m., and authorities say the driver was killed upon impact. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Two women in a third vehicle were also injured, but not seriously.

We don’t know exactly what evidence was gathered at the scene. We do, however, now know, thanks to the video that the 22-year-old driver was out club-hopping with friends at bars in and around Columbus. He said he was drinking heavily. He says he got behind the wheel. He blacked out. He doesn’t remember the crash.

In the video, he concedes, “I’m handing the prosecution everything they need to put me away for a very long time.”

Indeed, in Ohio, DUI manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. In D.C., you could feasibly face up to 30 years behind bars.

While we applaud the underlying spirit of the video, a confession made without a lawyer – publicly or otherwise – could prove extremely ill-advised. We understand wanting to do the right thing. We would simply recommend talking it through with your lawyer first, so that you fully understand the implications of such an action.

If you are facing DUI charges in D.C., contact the Scrofano Law, PC at 202-765-3175.