Swain Law Group
Phone: 405-546-1292
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What charges could you face in a fatal DUI-related accident?

It's deathly quiet, but just a few seconds ago, the noise was deafening. Perhaps you remember hearing a thunderous crack and the crunch of metal, and now, the smells around you are burning your nose. You may recall the jolts you felt as your body was thrown around the vehicle, but you aren't quite sure what happened.

You don't immediately recognize that you have been in a crash, but when you do, you begin to panic. Other people -- who may be emergency responders or witnesses to the crash -- crowd around you to determine if you are injured. Honestly, you don't know, but once you regain your senses, you discover an officer is asking you if you had something to drink tonight.

Someone died in the crash

When the dust settles, you find out that someone died in that accident and the police suspect you of driving under the influence. Police took steps to ascertain whether your blood alcohol level was at or above the legal limit at the time of crash. The next thing you know, people around you are using words like manslaughter, DUI and criminal charges.

Manslaughter?

Actually, in your case, you could face charges of first-degree manslaughter. Manslaughter is different from murder in that the killing of another person was not done with malice. It was unintentional, but was a potential result of your actions. For instance, movies and television often illustrate this offense as a "heat of passion" murder where one spouse kills the cheating husband or wife, and possibly the lover, after finding the two of them together, and acts out in a fit of uncontrollable rage.

In your circumstances, the situation is not quite so dramatic, but perhaps just as tragic. Another instance in which first-degree manslaughter charges could arise is in an alcohol-related crash in which someone died. A Cleveland County prosecutor would need to show the court that you committed the misdemeanor of drunk driving and someone died as a result.

A conviction could result in you going to prison for a minimum of four years and a maximum of the rest of your life, and Oklahoma law requires you to serve at least 85 percent of the sentence. For this reason alone, you need to take the charges seriously. It would probably not work in your best interests to attempt to confront the charges on your own. Seeking out the appropriate assistance could help you achieve the best outcome possible.

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