In a case involving DUI offenses the prosecution must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt on each element of a charged crime. When a driver is charged with DUI in an accident involving a death, the authorities usually bring a homicide charge against the accused. In Virginia and most states, a conviction of a crime involving drunk driving charges that is associated with the death of an innocent victim results in a mandatory sentence of incarceration.
In a death case, the authorities may bring several serious charges against the driver. Criminal DUI counsel must closely evaluate each charge, compare it with the factual evidence that can be established and determine whether the prosecution can prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt. In some cases, the charges may overlap and punish the same behavior twice.
Defense counsel will challenge duplicative charges to keep any ultimate sentence within reason. The foregoing principles may be involved in the recent arrest of a Virginia Beach man who was trying to elude police in an SUV when he got into an accident in which another man died. Police allege that they had originally tried to pull the accused over for traffic violations when he drove off and they followed in pursuit.
If the defendant did in fact cause the accident, then the next inquiry is whether the authorities can prove the basic drunk driving charges. This is usually done by evidence showing the blood alcohol content at the time, along with other supportive facts. The mere fact that the driver was eluding police does not prove DUI. It's presently unknown what facts the authorities are relying on to justify the DUI charges.
Under Virginia law and procedure, the prosecution's evidence will likely soon become known. DUI defense counsel has a difficult task to protect the accused from being convicted in the press prior to having an opportunity to enter a defense. If a defense of the drunk driving charges is determined to be inappropriate and counter-productive, then counsel can try to protect the client by negotiating a sentence that does not over-charge or create excessive punishment not allowed by law.
Source: dailypress.com, Virginia Beach police investigate deadly crash, Tyra M.Vaughn, Jan. 6, 2014