Following a fatal car accident during a police chase in Westminster last
Friday, a man has been charged with second degree murder.
The victim, a 12-year-old girl, was a passenger in her family's minivan
when the vehicle was struck by the defendant's vehicle. Her mother
and brother were hospitalized but are expected to recover. According to
the police, the man was wanted on suspicion of
drug trafficking and a
weapons violation when he refused to pull over. In fleeing, he rammed a police car and then
sped away, which initiated the chase. After about two minutes, the defendant
crashed into two other vehicles, one of which was the minivan carrying
the victim and her mother and brother.
Facing murder charges after an auto accident is a rare situation, but in
this case the circumstances surrounding the collision resulted in such
an extreme charge. The prosecutor in the case cited "implied malice"
resulting from the defendant's alleged knowing exposure of others
to death or great bodily injury.
The defendant not only faces second degree murder charges but has also
been charged with
assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer in conjunction with allegedly
hitting a police car with his vehicle.
Assault with a Deadly Weapon: California Penal Code § 245
A motor vehicle can be considered a "deadly weapon" under California
law, and a person who is accused of intentionally attempting to harm another
person with a motor vehicle may therefore face assault with a deadly weapon
charges under California Penal Code § 245. The penalties for this
charge are escalated if the intended victim is a law enforcement officer.
This felony offense is punishable by up to three, four or five years in
state prison. It is also considered a "strike" on a defendant's
record, pursuant to California's three strikes law.
Second Degree Murder: California Penal Code § 187
Under California Penal Code § 187, a person may face second degree
murder charges for an accidental death, depending on his or her conduct
and intentions. The man in the case discussed above is facing second degree
murder charges because of his alleged knowing commission of an act that
endangered the life and limb of others, while evading the police.
Second degree murder is a felony punishable by 15 years to life in prison,
though certain circumstances may influence the sentence that this defendant
faces. This offense is also classified as a violent felony, which would
count as a strike on a defendant's record.
In this case, if the defendant is convicted of both assault with a deadly
weapon and second degree murder, he may face a lengthy prison sentence
and also two strikes on his record, which would place him at risk of life
imprisonment if he is convicted of another violent or serious felony in
The Importance of Immediate Defense Counsel
With any criminal charges, the importance of immediate legal counsel cannot
be stressed enough. At the Law Offices of Jacqueline Goodman, we provide
criminal defense representation to clients in the Orange County area of California. Whether
you have been accused of a serious and violent felony offense like murder
or are dealing with a misdemeanor charge for a first
DUI (driving under the influence) offense, you need a professional to protect
your constitutional rights and interests to the fullest extent.
It is never too early to involve a criminal defense attorney who can challenge
physical evidence, witness testimony and other information or evidence
that has been brought against you. Even if formal charges have not yet
been filed, a competent attorney may be able to work to avoid such charges
in the first place. You can learn more and can discuss your unique case
with a knowledgeable professional by calling our offices –
contact us today!