A California woman has been sentenced to more than 12 years in a state prison for causing an accident that killed one pedestrian and left another with life-threatening injuries. The 50-year-old Lakewood resident was sentenced after entering nolo contendere, or no contest, pleas to charges of gross vehicular manslaughter, driving while under the influence causing serious injury within 10 years of a prior DUI that also resulted in great bodily injury, and hit-and-run causing serious injury or death.
The details of the sentence were released on Aug. 24 by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Two pedestrians struck
The accident that led to the woman’s arrest and prosecution took place on Del Amo Avenue in Long Beach on March 24. According to police, the woman’s Dodge minivan struck the rear of a Honda sedan near Locust Avenue. The force of the collision propelled the Honda into a parked vehicle and then into two pedestrians who had been standing in the roadway. A 61-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene, and a 71-year-old man suffered a crushed leg.
Police file charges after toxicology test
After the accident, the woman is said to have fled the scene on foot. She was located by police and taken into custody on a DUI charge after toxicology tests revealed that her blood alcohol concentration was at least 0.20. That is more than double the .08 legal limit to drive in California.
The merits of a no-contest plea
Nolo contendere pleas are rare, but there are situations where experienced criminal defense attorneys may suggest taking this path. When defendants enter no-contest pleas, they accept the facts as the prosecutor has laid them out but do not admit guilt. While this may seem like a slight distinction, it could be an important one if the defendant is charged with a misdemeanor and likely to face civil litigation.
If you are accused of committing a crime and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney might suggest that you enter a no-contest plea if the victim has indicated that they plan to file a lawsuit against you.