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Teen�s sentence after fatal DUI crash based on treatment

A serious car accident recently occurred in our neighboring state to the west that left a teenage boy facing charges of intoxication manslaughter. With a confession and subsequent conviction, the details of the accident are not in dispute at this point.

The accident that led to the charges occurred on June 15. The 16-year-old boy and seven passengers had gotten into the teenager’s truck. He was operating the vehicle under the influence at the time and hit several pedestrians. The intoxication manslaughter charges were sought because four of these individuals died as a result of the crash.

While any fatal accident can elicit strong emotions, the controversy in this case arose during the juvenile’s sentencing. The prosecution and the defense disagreed on what course of action would be most effective in this young man’s life.

The prosecution felt that time in prison, specifically the state guidelines’ 20-year maximum sentence, would be the best way for him to learn a life lesson. Essentially, the prosecution felt that a longer sentence would keep the young man under the eyes of the law for longer.

Neither of those assumptions holds water said the defense. Instead, the defense argued that what this child needed, the correctional system could not provide. This young man needed rehabilitation, said the defense. An intensive treatment program was necessary to treat the real reasons motivating his decisions.

As for staying under the watchful eye of the law, with the prosecution’s plan, said the defense, the young man as a juvenile could likely serve only two years before he was released. Probation allows this teenager to not only get treatment, but the opportunity to effect these changes under probationary guidelines.

In this case, the judge agreed with the defense, sentencing the young man to 10 years of probation.

As in this case, a defense attorney in Louisiana will fight for what is in the best interests of the defendant, whether the charges are at the level of a misdemeanor or serious felony.  

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Texas teen’s probation for killing 4 while driving drunk stirs anger,” Michael Muskal, Dec. 12, 2013

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