Recently in Manslaughter Category

March 16, 2011

Alcohol-Related Motor Vehicle Accident in Washington, DC Metro Area Results in a Fatality: Defendant Charged with DWI, Involuntary Manslaughter, and other Serious Felonies

Sanchez-Ramos.jpgAccording to a recent story in the Washington Post, Paul J. Krause of Fairfax was killed Monday night when he was hit by another vehicle and pushed into an intersection with oncoming traffic. Krause died as result of his injuries. The vehicle that hit Krause was allegedly driven by Carlos Sanchez-Ramos. According to reports, Sanchez-Ramos fled the scene with a three year-old child that had been with him in the car. He was apprehended by police not far from the scene of the accident. Sanchez-Ramos was charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI), involuntary manslaughter, hit and run, and child endangerment. Police are reporting that Sanchez-Ramos is not a legal resident, and had been deported for a prior drunk driving charge that also involved personal injury.

As a Washington, DC DUI defense lawyer, one aspect that I would like to discuss is how additional DC felonies may result from leaving the scene. The police will canvas the scene for any witness statements, review footage from security cameras, call all local hospitals to see if anyone came in with injuries consistent with a car accident, and call local auto body shops to see if anyone brought in a car matching the suspect vehicle.

If the motorist is caught, you may be charged with many additional crimes such as leaving the scene of an accident while intoxicated. Fleeing the scene also increases the likeliness of a being charged with vehicle manslaughter involving a DWI.

October 28, 2010

Suspected Drunk Driver Hit and Killed Two Pedestrians in the DC Metro Area but No Charges Have Been Filed


According to a story by My FOX DC, two pedestrians were hit and killed by a suspected drunk driver on Rockville Pike. The two victims were crossing the street at three in the morning when they were hit by a black Acura. Witnesses heard the screech of brakes before the collision. The intersection signals would not have been working at that time in the morning and were flashing yellow. The driver drove around the block and remained at the scene after the accident. He was arrested and processed for DUI, administered a breathalyzer and released. No charges have been filed at this time. Police say that they are confident alcohol played a role in the accident but are awaiting toxicology on the victims and conducting further investigation.

Many are wondering why the driver has not been charged with a crime such as vehicular homicide. The likely answer is that the police will eventually charge the driver with a DUI or DWI but may not be able to charge him with any more serious offenses. The reason is that negligent vehicular homicide involves a drunk driver that engages in conduct in which he has a disregard for human life. In this case, he appeared to have slammed on his brakes when he saw the pedestrians who may very well have been drunk and crossing in the middle of the street without looking for cars. In other words, the driver may have been intoxicated yet was still acting with some amount of care when this tragic accident occurred.

While it is never a good idea to drive after drinking, the one smart move the driver made was to stay at the scene of the accident. If he had fled, it is likely that he would have already been charged with negligent vehicular homicide.

October 7, 2010

A Woman Was Struck and Killed by a Hit and Run Driver in the Dupont Circle Neighborhood of Washington, DC

75579_drunk_driving.jpgAt approximately 1:30a.m., a black Lexus SUV struck Kiela M. Ryan as she was exiting her vehicle on the 1300 block of Connecticut Avenue Northwest Washington, DC. The driver fled the scene but not before a bicyclist got the driver's plate number. The police identified the vehicle owner as Jorida Davidson of Chevy Chase, MD. Police arrived to find Davidson sitting in her SUV. The engine was not running. Davidson refused a breathalyzer. Ryan later died of her injuries at a local hospital. DC Metro Police charged Davidson with DWI and are investigating other charges.
It is likely that Davidson will also be charged with Criminally Negligent Manslaughter and Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Personal Injury While Intoxicated.

If you ever find yourself in the horrific situation of having been involved in an accident while intoxicated, your first instinct may be to flee the scene. You might be thinking that the police won't know you had been drinking if you don't stay around. You might be thinking that you can get away with it entirely. While this is an understandable reaction, I urge you not to do this. It is illegal and will probably not improve anything. It will probably make things much worse.

The police will immediately talk to witnesses and put out a "be on the lookout," also known as a "BOLO" with any information they have. They will put out a notice to all auto-body shops, garages, and towing companies to report anyone bringing in a vehicle that matches their description. They may even set up road blocks. In other words, you will probably get caught if you are lucky enough to avoid being injured or killed in a chase. After being arrested, the police can now charge with you many additional crimes such as leaving the scene of an accident while intoxicated, resisting arrest, and other forms of criminal negligence.

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September 21, 2010

Victim Died from Injuries Sustained When She Was Hit by a Suspected Drunk Driver in the Adams Morgan Neighborhood of NW DC

On September 14, 2010, Julie Bachleitner, 26, and fellow Johns Hopkins graduate student were struck by a vehicle allegedly driven by Chamica M. Adams. Washington, DC Metropolitan Police suspected that Adams was intoxicated when her car struck the two pedestrians on a median and then crashed into an Adams Morgan restaurant. Adams was charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), Aggravated Assault, and now Involuntary Manslaughter.

What may come as surprise to many is that when someone acts negligently with a disregard to human life but not with the intention of killing another person, they are usually charged with "Negligent Homicide." This is the legal term often used for involuntary manslaughter. While voluntary manslaughter allows for a sentence up to 30 years, Negligent Homicide allows for a maximum sentence of five years. However, it is actually quite rare for a first time offender to be given the maximum sentence. I have seen cases where the defendant was convicted in a jury trial of Negligent Homicide involving drunk driving and was sentenced to only one year and half of that was suspended.

So how does a crime called "manslaughter" that sounds so horrible usually result in a seemingly minor penalty? It is because Manslaughter was created in common law as an alternative to the more serious crime of Murder. In the case of involuntary manslaughter, we are talking about a person who acted in such a careless manner that someone died but there was no intentent of killing another person.