Prosecutors: Factors to Aid Your Filing Decisions with Respect to Fatal Traffic Collisions


As you may know, on a fairly regular basis, prosecutors are faced with filing decisions with respect to fatal traffic collisions. Many of them, of course, do not involve criminal negligence and are not prosecuted as crimes. Sometimes, on the other hand, the circumstances are egregious and the decision to be made is whether to file a case as a vehicular manslaughter or as a murder, on an implied malice theory. There are a finite number of California Supreme Court and Court of Appeal cases (beginning with People v. Watson (1981) 30 Cal.3d 290) that have addressed the sufficiency of evidence for implied-malice murder in vehicular collision cases - and they are each dependent on an analysis of the facts involved.

I conducted research that discusses the facts and rulings in all of these cases, as well as noting the procedural posture of the case (which, of course, affects the standard by which the evidence was reviewed). I also identified the common factors that continually emerge from the Court’s analyses of what constitutes a sufficient degree of factors among to affirm a conviction of second degree murder.


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Date of this Version

January 2007