Getting to DUI Murder: A Roadmap
Information courtesy of Lawrence Taylor - DUIblog
Q. I wish I could get this drunk driver for murder, not just vehicular manslaughter.
A. Youre the prosecutor: You can charge him with anything you want.
Q. But how would I prove the mental state for murder, malice?
A. As you know, malice usually means there's an intent to kill. But the law says you can imply malice.
Q. OK, but imply it from what?
A. "It is implied when...the circumstances attending the killing show an abandoned and malignant heart". [Calif. Penal Code sec. 188]
Q. Yeah, but what the heck is "an abandoned and malignant heart"?
A. Our Supreme Court says its when someone "does an act with a high probability that it will result in death and does it with a base antisocial motive and a wanton disregard for human life". [People v. Washington, 62 Cal.2d 777 (1965)]
Q. I dont know if thats any easier to prove. "High probability" a DUI will result in death? Anyway, the guy was just drunk: How can I prove "base antisocial motive" and "wanton disregard for human life" from that?
A. Simple: Don't prove it, just imply that, too -- from the defendants knowing that DUI is dangerous. [People v. Watson, 30 Cal.3d 290 (Cal.1981)]
Q. You mean all I've got to do is prove he knew drunk driving is dangerous, and I've got malice?
A. We call it a "Watson murder".
Q. That's a long way from "high probability it will result in death".
A. That sort of got swept under the rug.
Q. But how do I prove he knew it was dangerous?
A. Like everything else, imply he knew it. Show hes got a prior DUI conviction [People v. McCarnes, 224 Cal.Rptr. 846 (Cal.App. 1986)] or he's been to Alcoholics Anonymous [People v. Brogna, 248 Cal.Rptr. 761 (Cal.App.1988)].