You have heard of the tragedies that can result from drinking and driving. Thousands of people every year are killed by drunk drivers and lives are torn apart. It is undoubtedly a tragedy when this occurs. Virginia has serious penalties for DUI and even more serious repercussions when someone is injured or killed in a DUI-related accident. When it comes to severity, not much is more severe than a murder charge and possible conviction. This begs the question, then, can a person who kills someone in a DUI accident be charged with murder in Virginia?
Virginia’s DUI Laws
The first and second convictions a person receives for DUI in Virginia are misdemeanors. The third and subsequent convictions count as felonies. There is no doubt that all DUI convictions are serious business. A DUI accident with serious injuries or death involved can be charged in Virginia as a felony, as well. Charges that include vehicular manslaughter are possible if someone is killed. You may be asking, though, how does this rise to a murder charge?
Felony Murder in Virginia
Virginia has a felony murder rule (which Virginia designates as second degree murder) that is spelled out in its statutes. It is defined as the accidental killing of someone while in the commission of a felony other than those crimes that are defined as either capital murder or in the commission (or attempted commission of) of arson, rape, forcible sodomy, illegal sexual penetration, robbery, burglary or abduction. Therefore, by definition, in circumstances where DUI is charged as a felony, the Commonwealth’s attorney could conceivably bring second-degree murder charges in cases in which there is a resulting death.
There have been recent DUI cases in Virginia that have resulted in murder charges. An example of this is the case of Kevin Anthony Boone. He was alleged to have hit a 23-year-old in York County on February 1, 2015, who died of her injuries as Boone fled the scene. Eventually, after a two-month investigation, Virginia State Police arrested him and he was charged with DUI manslaughter, DUI maiming (another person was also injured), felony DUI, felony hit-and-run injury and felony murder. Mr. Boone had a previous history of DUI convictions. Clearly, there are aggravating circumstances in this case that made the Commonwealth’s Attorney believe that a felony murder charge was necessary. However, under the law, the only thing necessary to bring a felony murder charge is that an accidental death occurs while in the commission of a felony.
While no one believes that such a horrible scenario could happen to them, it can. The best way to avoid this kind of trouble is to not drink and drive. However, if the unthinkable does happen and you are charged, you are facing up to 40 years in prison. Your life and liberty are in serious jeopardy. If you find yourself facing serious charges related to a DUI in Northern Virginia, you need serious representation. Jad Sarsour has the experience to defend you from DUI charges and any other criminal charges that might be entailed. Give him a call today at (571) 367-7009 and start building your defense today.