People v. Ochoa Case Brief

Summary of People v. Ochoa, S. Ct. Ca In bank 1993

Facts: Ochoa drank between 17 and 22 beers. He and his wife went to bed at his sister’s house. Early in the morning he left in his bronco headed home. He claimed he left at 11:30 but the facts state 1 a.m. After leaving he was observed speeding 15 mph over, swerving erratically, failing to use signals, and he eventually struck a Honda killing both passengers. He never even hit his brakes afterward. His BAC two hours later revealed .128, est at time of accident .15.

Issue: Whether ct of appeals erred in concluding evidence was insufficient for gross negligence vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated?

Holding: Yes

Procedure: Convicted Dst ct for two counts gross vehicular manslaughter while intox, one count hit and run driving. Ct of appeals reversed and remanded for vehicular manslaughter. Ct. App reversed, tr. Ct. affirmed.

Rule: Unlawful killing w/o malice, while intox., driving, + killing was proximate cause of unlawful act not a felony, + w/ gross negligence. GN= state of mind of a person who acts with conscious indifference to the consequences. I don’t care.

Court Rationale: .15 BAC twice legal limit, that = excessive. Speeding, 15 mph above limit. Aborted lane changes evidenced confused driving pattern. The def suffered a previous conviction for DUI, was reasonably aware of the risks, nonetheless drove while intox., at high speed, erratic, without signalling, and without braking after hitting the vehicle. Def degree of care exercised was so slight as to exhibit a conscious indifference. Bennett 819 P. 2d 849, and Von Staden.

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