A white motorist killed a Black nursing student and the family is outraged that no criminal charges have been filed against the white motorist. While toxicology reports have not indicated the driver was drunk at the time of the accident, that would not stop prosecutors from filing vehicular homicide charges against the motorist for going twice the speed limit when the accident occurred. So why isn’t the driver being charged?
Criminal defense attorneys don’t spend a lot of time thinking about why folks should face charges related to their conduct. We spend the majority of our time doing the exact opposite. However, there are issues related to racism here that need to be discussed and so, that’s exactly what we’ll do.
Is this racism?
Prosecutors file charges based on how winnable their case is. It has nothing to do with whether or not you’re guilty. White, monied defendants are harder to convict than poor black defendants. If this were a black poor driver who struck a white nursing student, the poor black driver would not have an ace criminal defense attorney pointing out every hole in the prosecution’s case. This is all a confidence game, folks. Defense attorneys very rarely stand before juries like you see in the movies. We make the prosecutor feel like they’re going to lose.
Losing a case is tough on a prosecutor. Any prosecutor who isn’t winning 85-80% of their cases is wasting the district’s money. They win these cases by analyzing what they can prove, the ability of the defendant to prepare a strong defense, and the likelihood of conviction if the case were to go to trial. This was a case that was definitely heading to trial. Unless they had a tox screen to prove the defendant was drunk at the time of the accident, the jury would have been asked to convict the defendant on a highly subjective standard.
Yes, this is racism. It’s not that the district attorney doesn’t think a white kid ought to face penalties for the crime of vehicular manslaughter. The district attorney isn’t confident that they can convince a jury that a white defendant should spend 10 years behind bars because he was driving too fast.
Understanding vehicular manslaughter/homicide
If the law can’t get a tox screen to prove you were drunk, they usually file vehicular homicide charges against you. In some cases, they will file both DUI manslaughter charges and vehicular homicide charges knowing that they can only convict on one. The penalties are the same, so they don’t care which one. If you get a lawyer who can prove you didn’t meet a specific standard of guilt, they’ll offer a reduced plea.
In this case, none of that happened. While the situation may be more related to wealth than the color of the defendant’s skin, the same power imbalances that exist in our society exist in a courtroom too. In this case, the defense won the confidence game because they brought firepower and the DA didn’t bother pressing any charges. Convictions in similar cases have been overturned on appeal.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing criminal charges, call the West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at The Skier Law Firm, P.A. today to schedule an appointment and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.