Thursday, February 03, 2005

"COPS" like car chases causing accidents cannot be murders under California Law.

Last week, in People v. Howard, the California Supreme Court threw out a second degree murder conviction for Mr. Howard and his life sentence as well, and ruled that he COULD NOT be convicted of murder after a 'COPS'-like chase through rural parts of Fresno County.

Mr. Howard, who had marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine in his system when tested after the crash, took off from police in a high speed pursuit after they attempted to stop the stolen SUV which he was driving. Howard ran a red light after police broke off pursuit and hit a car in an intersection killing one of the car's occupants.

The court held that not all evading cases are inherently dangerous to human life. The Court stated that the prosecution could not rely upon the second degree felony murder doctrine, which allows for conviction of murder if someone is killed in the course of commission of a felony. The prosecution will now have to prove that someone acted with "malice", not just in reckless disregard for life and limb.

Chip Venie, Esq.
(619) 235-8300

evading evade car car chase car law murder accident car accident evading offense crime criminal


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