Man chooses to plead guilty in vehicular homicide case

It is rare for a fatal drunk driving case to make headlines unless it was caused by a celebrity, but a 22-year-old man’s case has garnered national attention after he made a YouTube video confessing to driving while intoxicated. Not only did he admit to drunk driving, but he later pled guilty in court to vehicular homicide for causing the death of a 61-year-old man. The young man has also expressed his remorse in court.

It is perhaps the young man’s willingness to accept responsibility and his apparently sincere apology to the older man’s family that resulted in his sentence. Though he possibly could have gotten a lighter sentence, he still was able to avoid the maximum sentence of 8-1/2 years in prison.

No one can say for certain whether his guilty plea had anything to do with the Ohio judge giving him a less-than-maximum sentence, and it is certainly not a safe strategy for defendants to assume that a guilty plea will result in a lighter sentence. Before making any decisions about what kind of plea to enter, it is important to work with a criminal defense lawyer, as they can provide the positives and negatives of each choice.

Whether such a case could happen in Minnesota is uncertain, but the principle remains the same: do not make any major decisions about criminal charges without first talking to a lawyer. There is a reason, after all, why the Supreme Court has said that anyone facing charges must have access to counsel.

Source: Reuters, “Ohio man who posted video on drunk driving death gets 6-1/2 years,” Kim Palmer, Oct. 23, 2013

He has won jury trial cases in misdemeanor and felony cases and in DWI’s and non-DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. He is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

People facing criminal charges in Minnesota often ask, “Can you defend yourself in court?” You can represent yourself in court when charged with a crime. Self-representation, however, is not typically in the accused's best interests, even if courts allow it.
Parents whose children have been arrested or accused of committing a heinous crime might wonder, “Can a minor be charged with a felony?” A minor aged 14 years or older but below 18 years may face felony charges in Minnesota.
People accused of or under investigation for assault might ask, “What are the charges for assault?” Minnesota has five levels of assault charges. First-degree assault is the most serious offense, and a conviction often results in the most severe penalties, like long prison time and hefty fines.