Q: My husband was arrested for OWI and reckless homicide. I’m curious as to how much time we’re looking at.
He was convicted of possession almost 20 years ago and has not been in any legal trouble since I know that the charges carry a sentence of anywhere from 1-12 years. I’m curious as to what amount of time he will LIKELY be sentenced to based on his history and everything else. Just a professional guess as to what we’re looking at facing.
A: Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated Causing Death is a Level 4 Felony which has a sentencing range of 2 years to 12 years in the Department of Correction with an advisory sentence of 6 years. Reckless Homicide is a Level 5 Felony which has a sentencing range of 1 to 6 years in the Department of Correction with an advisory sentence of 3 years. Assuming that there was only one person killed/injured as a result of the crash and that these are the only two charges that your husband is facing 12 years should be the maximum that he is looking at.
As for guessing about how much time he might actually be sentenced to, that is virtually impossible to predict at least without much more information. It also assumes that he would be found guilty after a trial and that there is no plea agreement worked out between your husband's attorney and the prosecutor. It would be very highly advisable for you to speak directly with an attorney experienced in handling these OWI fatality cases. They are frequently highly technical and sometimes very difficult for the prosecutor to prove unless they have particularized expertise.
A: Mr. Hand is correct in his answer regarding the possible sentence if only one person was injured or killed. If there was more than one victim then the sentence could be increased. Your husband needs to hire a criminal defense attorney experienced in OWI Death cases. These cases can get very complex with toxicology, proof of causation in the crash, etc. There are also procedural and evidentiary requirements on the police as they conducted their investigation. Without knowing all the details it is too complicated to give an idea of what is ultimate sentence would be in this case.
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A: If he is facing such serious charges, he surely must already have legal counsel, whom he should discuss this with in detail. Every county has a "local legal culture", and every judge brings his or her own perspective into the sentencing decision. (I started out as prosecutor in Knox over 40 years ago, so I am familiar with the "local legal culture" there.) The judge will consider mitigating and aggravating factors. A lack of serious prior criminal history is an important mitigating factor, as is "acceptance of responsibility" if he decides to plead guilty instead of going to trial. There may be other mitigating factors as well. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will be able to argue for the best possible outcome, but no lawyer should presume to predict the sentence unless a specific sentence is agreed to. IF a plea agreement providing for a specific sentence is submitted, the judge can either accept and be bound by it, or reject it and proceed to trial.
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