Being arrested for driving while intoxicated is a scary experience for anyone to go through. However, the consequences a DUI suspect faces will greatly increase if they are accused of causing an accident resulting in the personal injury or death of another person. Experienced DUI defense lawyers in Michigan are increasingly facing more serious charges such as second degree murder for drunk driving offenses. Any injury or death related drunk driving offense can result in harsh and life-changing penalties including a significant prison sentence.
A recent example of this is a Kent County case in which a man is being charged with both a DUI, and second-degree murder after causing an accident resulting in the death of a local teacher. In the hours before the November 2009 crash, Leonel Franco-Avina was working the janitorial overnight shift at a local grocery store. Although store employees opening at 7:00 a.m. reported that he did a lousy job cleaning up, he did not smell of alcohol or seem intoxicated. However, when he finally entered his pick-up truck to leave, many witnesses noticed that he exhibited reckless and poor driving, even running over a shrub-decorated island before leaving the parking lot–driving the wrong direction.
Traveling into head-on traffic, it was not long before Franco-Avina struck another vehicle, driven by Aaron Haynes, 30. While Franco-Avina suffered a severe bleeding head injury, Haynes was not as lucky. In the accident, the local school teacher died upon impact after sustaining a ripped aorta and massive trauma, including a broken neck.
When medical practitioners at Spectrum Health performed a blood test on Franco-Avina, his blood alcohol content registered as 0.425 percent, roughly five times the legal limit. As a result, prosecutors cited him with Michigan DUI charges as well as second-degree murder due to his excessive level of intoxication.
In Michigan, a person can be convicted of second-degree murder if it is determined by the jury that they knowingly created a very high risk of death or great bodily harm. Increasingly, this charge is being used in drunk driving cases. Michigan courts have determined that second-degree murder is not a specific intent crime. In essence, this means that a drunk driver can be convicted of murder even if he or she never intended to cause the death.
The penalty for second-degree murder in Michigan is potentially life in prison. Whether the sentence is life or any term of years in prison, the impact of such a conviction will be life-changing. If you or someone that you know is facing serious criminal charges, you should be talking to trustworthy and knowledgeable DUI attorneys in Michigan. By doing so, you will have a team of experienced and effective trial lawyers who know how to defend your rights.