Matthew Cordle, a 22-year-old kid embarking on adulthood, awoke confused
in a hospital bed by police who informed him that he had just killed a
man. It was sobering, in more ways than one. And just like that, life
as he knew it was over. He yelled "I didn't kill anyone, I didn't
do it" and he refused to give a blood sample.
"My name is Matthew Cordle, and on June 22, 2013, I hit and killed
Vincent Canzani," he says somberly. "This video will act as
With the help of defense attorneys, Cordle got into recovery and within
days, on September 3, 2013, made an online video confessing to the crime
that went viral with millions of views to date. He pleaded guilty, just
as he had promised in the video, and was sentenced to 6 and a half years
in prison. Because he had no prior record, Cordle faced a maximum of 8
1/2 years in prison and a lifetime revocation of his driving privilege.
His blood-alcohol level was said to have been more than twice the legal
limit of 0.08.
When is a DUI a Felony in Orange County?
Unlike Ohio, where Cordle faces charges, California enforces some of the
harshest driving under the influence (DUI) laws and penalties in the nation. This is especially true in DUI cases
involving fatalities, which pose a lifetime of consequences for convicted
individuals. Aside from lengthy prison sentences, these crimes can also
result in lifetime driver’s license revocations and unfavorable
felony records that can place limitations on one’s future. Felony
convictions also result in a loss of civil rights, including the loss
of right to vote and bear firearms.
DUIs resulting in death are the most serious DUI felony, and can result
in various charges ranging from manslaughter to murder. In California,
even with no prior DUI record, a "Watson murder," or "implied
malice murder” could be charged when a person drove recklessly,
causing the death of another. It is often used when individuals previously
convicted of a DUI causing death while driving intoxicated.
DUIs are ordinarily prosecuted as misdemeanors, but they can be elevated
to felonies in various ways:
Multiple DUI Convictions – There are two ways in which multiple DUI convictions can result in felony
allegations: (1) In California, a
fourth or subsequent DUI within 10 years can be prosecuted as a felony offense. Priorable convictions
include any DUI conviction, wet reckless convictions, and out-of-state
DUIs. (2) Individuals will also face felony DUI charges if they are arrested
for DUI after having ever
previously been convicted of a felony DUI offense. This means that if a person has been convicted of a felony DUI
– for any reason and at any time – they will face felony charges,
even if the 10-year look back period has expired and even if the new DUI
involves no aggravating circumstances and is not typically a felony level offense.
DUI Causing Injury – California enforces a distinct criminal offense for individuals who cause
injury while driving intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. Depending
on the circumstances involved in a particular DUI accident – especially
the severity of another's injury – drivers can be prosecuted
for felony crimes including "strikes" under California's
Three Strikes Law if there is "great bodily injury" alleged.
Fatalities – DUIs resulting in the death of another person will result in the most serious
DUI allegations. Depending on the facts of a case, these situations may
result in felony charges for DUI vehicular manslaughter or DUI second-degree murder.
Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Jacqueline Goodman draws from more
than 20 years of experience when advocating on behalf of clients charged
with all types of DUI offenses, including serious felonies. Because she
takes a personalized approach to working cases, she focuses on developing
tailored defense strategies that challenge that unique allegations made
by prosecutors. Avoiding and mitigating exposure to penalties is always
the top priority.
If you or your loved one is currently facing felony DUI allegations in
Fullerton or any of the surrounding communities of Orange County, please
be aware that time is of the essence. Take proactive measures to protect
your rights, learn more about your defense, and discuss the ways the Law
Offices of Jacqueline Goodman can help.
Contact us to consult with Attorney Goodman personally during a FREE consultation.