Monday, June 1, 2015

The Death Of Two People In DUI Accident Results In 2 Strikes

Even though in many cases the death of an innocent person in a DUI accident was not intentional, California law deems the crime to be a strike for future enhancement purposes.  In this case the Court holds that two deaths and two manslaughter convictions equals two strikes under the 3strikes law.  Here are the facts:  In 1986, Rusconi pled guilty to two counts of vehicular manslaughter. The convictions grew out of a single drunk driving offense in which Rusconi hit and killed two bicyclists with her car. A subsequent conviction for driving while intoxicated resulted in Rusconi receiving a 25-years-to-life Three Strikes sentence. After she was found ineligible for Proposition 36 resentencing, she appealed, claiming her single act which resulted in two vehicular manslaughter convictions could not be counted as two strikes.

The Court Upheld the lower courts ruling.  In People v. Vargas(2014) 59 Cal.4th 635, the Supreme Court held that where a defendant's single act committed against a single victim results in multiple serious felony convictions, only one of those convictions may be used as a strike in a later prosecution. Vargas does not assist Rusconi, however, because her single criminal act resulted not only in multiple offenses, but also involved violent injury to multiple victims, circumstances to which the holding in Vargas does not extend. An offender who injures more than one victim is more culpable than an offender who injures only one victim. Thanks CCAP.

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