August 26, 2012—San Bernardino, CA—A man charged with the 2010 car accident that killed a California Highway Patrol officer in Barstow agreed to a plea arrangement with prosecution on Friday.
Rafael Garcia, 20, pled no contest to one count of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. Other charges against Garcia, including transportation of marijuana, were simultaneously dropped.
Garcia was traveling north on the 15 Freeway when he struck Officer Justin McGrory, who was conducting a traffic stop. McCrory was killed instantly and the other car was also wrecked.
Defense attorneys claimed that Garcia fell asleep prior to the impact.
Sentencing will take place in September. Garcia originally faced 12 years in jail, but with time served will now likely be released in December.
My heartfelt condolences go out to Officer McCrory’s family on this tragic loss.
What Criminal Charges Are Made In A Drunk Driving Fatality Accident?
In California, DUI can be charged in several ways, depending on the circumstances. If you are pulled over and register .08 percent blood alcohol content or higher, you will likely be charged with a misdemeanor unless you have more than three prior offenses or you cause serious bodily injury to someone else.
However, if you hurt or kill another person, the charges will likely include a felony. This can be a charge of vehicular manslaughter or second-degree murder depending on the circumstances of the case. A “Watson murder” charge is usually used when the defendant has prior DUI convictions. If it is the defendant’s first DUI, the charge is usually vehicular manslaughter.
Will The Defendant’s Criminal Case Pay Money To The Family?
There is a great misunderstanding about the purpose and scope of a criminal and a civil case. In a criminal case, the focus is on punishing the offender, or making him or her “pay a debt to society.” Criminal charges can result in jail time, unlike civil charges. Fines are often assessed as well, but these usually go to the state rather than the victim’s family, although sometimes reparations are made to victims if something has been stolen.
In a wrongful death case, however, it is not the state’s job to recover damages for the victim’s family. That responsibility falls to a wrongful death attorney who will file a personal injury case against the defendant and attempt to collect damages for the victim’s family.