Earlier this month, a Michigan appellate court issued an opinion upholding a woman’s 25-year sentence of incarceration for a second-degree murder conviction based on the death of her daughter in a DUI accident. According to one news source reporting on the court’s opinion, the appellate panel consisted of three judges, two of whom voted to affirm the sentence, while the third felt that a lesser sentence would be warranted. The single dissenting judge asked a higher court to take the case and help clarify under which circumstances a defendant can be convicted and sentenced on a second-degree murder charge for a DUI-related death.
The Facts of the Case Back in September 2013, the defendant’s four-year-old daughter died after her mother was involved in an accident. Evidently, the accident occurred when the 27-year-old mother collided with another vehicle when attempting to enter a highway from a highway off-ramp. After the collision, the vehicle rolled, and the four-year-old was ejected from the vehicle. It was later determined that the mother was intoxicated at the time of the accident.
At trial, the court determined that the woman possessed the requisite level of “malice” or intent to support a second-degree murder conviction. After the trial, the woman was sentenced to 25 years in jail. Not satisfied with the result of the trial, she appealed to the appellate court, seeking relief.
As noted above, the appellate court affirmed her sentence but also sought some clarification from a higher court. Specifically, the appellate court wanted guidance on when a defendant can be properly charged and sentenced with second-degree murder in relation to a DUI accident. As the court pointed out, the issue is when there can be a finding of “malice” versus “gross negligence.” If a person is grossly negligent, as the dissenting judge claimed the woman was, a murder conviction would not be permissible. However, if a finding of malice is appropriate under the circumstances, a murder charge could be sustained.
DUI Accident Cases in Michigan Depending on the seriousness of the accident, a DUI accident can result in very serious consequences, including life imprisonment. In other cases, a term of probation or a short period of incarceration may be the appropriate sentence. In any event, it is extremely important to seek out and discuss a case with an experienced Michigan criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Have You Been Arrested after a DUI Accident? If you have recently been arrested for getting into an accident while intoxicated, you could face serious, life-altering consequences. It is very important that you discuss your case with an experienced Michigan DUI attorney as soon as possible. Attorney Steven Schwartz has years of experience representing clients in all kinds of DUI and OWI cases, including those involving serious accidents. To set up a free consultation with Attorney Schwartz, call (248) 266-8720 today.