How to Win a PC 191.5(b) Case

Aaron Spolin

Award-winning criminal defense attorney Aaron Spolin has developed proven strategies that help his team at Spolin Law, P.C. win cases.

Because vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated carries more serious penalties than a normal vehicular manslaughter charge, winning a PC 191.5(b) case in California requires your attorney to utilize proven strategies throughout the legal process. One of California’s top vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated lawyers, Aaron Spolin, explains how to win a PC 191.5(b) case: “We use three strategies: (1) draft effective motions to get the case dismissed or evidence excluded; (2) utilize all of the evidence to support the case; and (3) develop strong defenses against the prosecutor’s allegations.” These award-winning strategies have been used many times by Mr. Spolin’s legal team at Spolin Law, P.C. (Every case is unique, and prior success is not a “guarantee” of the same outcome on a future case.)

Mr. Spolin explains how his strategies work:

  1. Drafting Effective “Motions”: A legal “motion” is a request to the court. Common motions used by Spolin Law, P.C. seek to have the entire case dismissed or certain evidence excluded, or suppressed. When evidence is thrown out, the prosecutor may not have enough information to sustain the charges.
  2. Utilizing Evidence to Support the Case: Your attorney will conduct an independent investigation and gather evidence from the prosecutor. Everything collected will be carefully scrutinized and, if possible, used to support the dismissal or reduction of your charges.
  3. Develop Strong Defenses: As a former prosecutor, Aaron Spolin, can often anticipate the arguments that the state is going to use against his clients. He and his team at Spolin Law, P.C. use that knowledge based on their extensive experience to aggressively defend their clients.

To learn more about how these strategies might apply to your case, call Mr. Spolin and his team of criminal defense attorneys at their law firm, Spolin Law, P.C.: (310) 424-5816.

  1. How to Win a PC 191.5(b) Case
  2. What Is Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated – PC 191.5(b)?
  3. Elements of PC 191.5(b)
  4. Defenses to PC 191.5(b) Charges
  5. Learn About the Leading PC 191.5(b) Attorneys

What Is Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated – PC 191.5(b)?

Negligent manslaughter while intoxicated, also known as vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, is a California felony or misdemeanor offense in violation of Penal Code 191.5(b). This offense occurs when a person drives while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and also engages in an additional negligent act at the same time. As a result, someone must be killed.

  1. How to Win a PC 191.5(b) Case
  2. What Is Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated – PC 191.5(b)?
  3. Elements of PC 191.5(b)
  4. Defenses to PC 191.5(b) Charges
  5. Learn About the Leading PC 191.5(b) Attorneys

Elements of PC 191.5(b)

The crime itself has four main elements, and to be convicted of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that each element was present in the commission of the crime. Below are the “elements of crime” as outlined by the California legislature.

To be convicted of negligent manslaughter while intoxicated, it must be shown that:

  1. You drove a vehicle after having consumed alcohol or drugs;
  2. On that drive, you participated in a separate crime or lawful act that may have caused death;
  3. You committed this crime with ordinary negligence; and
  4. You caused the death of another person with your negligent actions.

Let’s take a closer look at each element of the crime:

Driving Intoxicated or Under the Influence of Drugs

Driving while intoxicated in the state of California requires that the driver must have done one of the following:

  • Violated Vehicle Code 23152(a) VC California’s “driving under the influence” law
  • Driven with a blood alcohol level (BAC) at or above .08%
  • Driven under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs
  • Driven with a BAC at or above .05% if they are younger than 21 years old

A DUI can have separate penalties and may be an additional charge you’re facing. The penalties may add to your time in prison or run at the same time.

Pursuing a Separate Crime or Lawful Act That May Have Caused Death

For this element to be satisfied, the defendant must have committed an unlawful act (that is not a felony) or a lawful act that could cause harm to another, in addition to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This “additional” action does not necessarily need to be a dangerous offense, but it does need to be an action that, under the circumstances of the crime, could be dangerous enough to cause death to someone else.

For instance, a driver rapidly swerving through lanes or driving unnecessarily over the speed limit while intoxicated would likely fit into this element.

Acting with Ordinary Negligence

Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is based upon the principle of “ordinary negligence.”

Ordinary negligence occurs when a person fails to take care in keeping themselves and those around them safe, acting in a way that a reasonably cautious person would not have in their shoes.

It is important to make a distinction between gross negligence and ordinary recklessness. An act may be only considered grossly negligent if it largely strays from the way most people would act under the same circumstances and shows extreme disregard for human life.

If a prosecutor can prove that you acted with gross negligence, it is likely that you will be convicted of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated under PC 191.5 (a) instead of ordinary negligent manslaughter while intoxicated under PC 191.5 (b). Gross vehicular manslaughter is a more serious offense and carries heavier penalties.

Causing the Death of Another Person

To be convicted of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, your actions under the influence must have been the direct or a “substantial factor” in the death of another.

When dealing with an auto accident, there may be many intervening or other factors that resulted in the death of the victim.

Penalties for Negligent Manslaughter While Intoxicated

Negligent manslaughter while intoxicated is considered a wobbler offense in California. Wobbler offenses refer to crimes that can either be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, a decision typically made at the discretion of the prosecutor.

If filed as a misdemeanor, you could be facing a one-year county jail sentence, a fine of up to $1,000, and/or probation.

But if filed as a felony, you could remain in state prison for up to four years, and/or receive a fine for up to $10,000.

You will also likely lose other freedoms, such as gun rights. Your driver’s license may also be at stake. This can impact the job you’re able to get as well as where you can live and engage in everyday activities of living.

It’s essential that you work with an attorney who is knowledgeable about the law when facing this type of charge. The team at Spolin Law, P.C. has the experience and knowledge. Call (310) 424-5816.

  1. How to Win a PC 191.5(b) Case
  2. What Is Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated – PC 191.5(b)?
  3. Elements of PC 191.5(b)
  4. Defenses to PC 191.5(b) Charges
  5. Learn About the Leading PC 191.5(b) Attorneys

Common Legal Defenses to PC 191.5(b) Charges

Common Legal Defenses section: Image of attorney in court

The attorneys at Spolin Law, P.C. know how to develop strong defenses to the PC 191.5(b) charges you are facing. Call us at (310) 424-5816.

There are three main lines of defense attorneys often use when responding to negligent manslaughter charges. They include the following arguments:

You Were Not Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol

One of the best ways to challenge a negligent manslaughter charge is to prepare a DUI defense and prove you were not intoxicated while driving. This can be done by challenging the police officer’s investigation at the scene as well as breath and blood tests.

If the police officer claims you appeared to be intoxicated, we can make the argument that those symptoms may have other, reasonable, causes. Fatigue, illness, and certain medical conditions may all make you appear to be under the influence.

Some police officers conduct a breathalyzer test on the side of the road. These are notoriously inaccurate and can be challenged. Even a blood test taken at the hospital or police station can be challenged if it wasn’t performed properly, by a credentialed individual, or handled properly.

You Did Not Act with Negligence

Attorneys can also defend against a negligent manslaughter charge by showing that you did not act with ordinary negligence during the situation in question. There may have been a reason for your actions, such as an emergency you were responding to.

Your Actions Did Not Kill the Victim

There may be many potential causes of death in an auto accident. A person is not automatically guilty just because they were intoxicated and involved in an accident. Instead, the prosecutor has the burden of proving that the defendant’s actions were the cause of the death. Your attorney can poke holes in those accusations by drawing attention to other potential causes of death, such as lack of safety features and other vehicles that may have been involved.

There are multiple defenses that might apply to your specific case. To learn more about how Spolin Law, P.C. can defend you, call us at (310) 424-5816.

  1. How to Win a PC 191.5(b) Case
  2. What Is Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated – PC 191.5(b)?
  3. Elements of PC 191.5(b)
  4. Defenses to PC 191.5(b) Charges
  5. Learn About the Leading PC 191.5(b) Attorneys

Learn About the Leading PC 191.5(b) Attorneys

Attorney Aaron Spolin sitting down with client.

The legal team at Spolin Law, P.C. respects what you have to say. We will sit down with you and listen. Call us at (310) 424-5816.

Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated charges under Penal Code 191.5(b) can be complex, especially since they may be either a misdemeanor or felony. Regardless of how they are charged, a conviction can result in incarceration, fines, and the loss of other freedoms.

Spolin Law, P.C.’s award-winning criminal defense attorneys have a record of successful outcomes. We win cases because:

  • We listen to your story. The team at Spolin Law, P.C. will sit down with you and listen to what you have to say. We respect you as an individual, and see you and your family as more than just clients. Once we get as much information as possible from you, we will determine if the charges match your situation.
  • We know how the prosecutor makes decisions. In a PC 191.5(b) case, it’s important to be able to anticipate how the prosecutor will charge this wobbler. As a former prosecutor, attorney Aaron Spolin knows how to negotiate to obtain the best outcome possible.
  • We know how to win. Spolin Law, P.C. uses proven strategies to achieve success. We evaluate the facts of every case and match them to the elements of the law. Then, we develop a strong defense based on those facts.

If you have questions about your case, contact the legal team at Spolin Law, P.C. at (310) 424-5816.