Everyone knows the dangers of drinking and driving. Few people imagine a DWI fatality in their future, let alone felony criminal charges for a “drunk driving” homicide.
Driving While Impaired or “DWI” can serve as what defense lawyers call a predicate offense for Felony Death by Vehicle, Manslaughter, and Murder charges.
Given the potential long-term consequences, such allegations deserve, as a part of legal representation, careful review of the accident scene and forensic evidence.
If you’ve been charged with a homicide, we strongly recommend you obtain experienced legal counsel without delay. Exercise your right to remain silent and speak only to a criminal defense attorney – John Fanney, Raleigh Criminal Lawyer
The Wake County District Attorney’s Office, like judges, defense attorneys, and media, takes DWI-related matters very seriously. Impaired Driving is not limited by age, race, or background. It may involve prosecution for both felony or misdemeanor charges.
Alcohol impairs both mental and physical faculties. Accuity in both is necessary to safely operate a vehicle.
One of the many dangers of drinking and driving involves the loss of the ability to observe and fully appreciate things like other vehicles, traffic, and stopping distances.
There exists a well-documented interaction between fatal accidents involving alcohol and impairment. The consumption of impairing substances, particularly alcohol, is often voluntary. As such, there is little acceptance of the defense, “I didn’t mean to hurt anyone.”
Manslaughter & Murder: DWI Fatality Charges:
Murder by Vehicle – Second Degree Murder
Murder in the Second Degree is the unlawful killing of another human being without legal authority, excuse, or justification. Murder is defined by the essential element of MALICE.
The State must prove by admissible evidence, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt:
- Operation of a vehicle by the Defendant (driving); and,
- Driving on a “PVA” Public Vehicular Area, roadway, street, or highway; and,
- The driving occurred in the State of North Carolina; and,
- While driving a vehicle, the Defendant caused an accident/collision; and,
- As a proximate result of the collision/accident, another person (human being) was killed; and,
- At the time of the operation of the vehicle, the Defendant was legally impaired (DWI); and,
- The Defendant acted in an intentional way with MALICE
*Proof of Malice is required to prove the Defendant guilty of Second Degree Murder in NC.
Malice is generally defined as reckless and wanton behavior that exhibits an evil mind (also known as mens rea). The actions of the accused show a conscious disregard of human life and social duty.
What is Involuntary Manslaughter?
Unlike murder charges, Involuntary Manslaughter does not require malice. Involuntary Manslaughter demands proof of culpable negligence. It is unintentional.
Therefore, the State must prove the Defendant acted negligently, to such extent he or she is “culpable,” thus resulting in the death of another human being.
The acts of the accused, for both Murder and Manslaughter charges, must the cause of the DWI fatality. According to the NC Pattern Jury Instructions, the Defendant’s act or acts are A PROXIMATE CAUSE of the death of another.
A proximate cause differs from the civil court legal standard commonly associated with accident cases. “A proximate cause” need not be the sole or only cause of damage or injury. It also does not need to be the nearest or last cause of the accident/collision that results in damage, injury, or death.
John Fanney: Raleigh Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges in Wake County NC, we recommend you call immediately.
Our lawyers are available for legal consultation. It doesn’t matter if you have a felony or misdemeanor charge, we’re here to help.
Call John Fanney NOW: 919-617-7009
The lawyers at our law firm provide FREE CONSULTATIONS for all criminal matters in Wake County.