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Virginia veteran, a cancer patient, charged with DUI fatality

Newport News defendants sometimes feel criminal cases are lost before any plea is made or a trial begins. It's a good thing Virginia criminal defense lawyers don't feel that way. There is always at least one and sometimes several legal avenues an attorney can take toward acquittal or charge reduction.

While checking to make sure a defendant's civil rights aren't violated in the legal process, defense lawyers also weigh the strength of evidence. Improperly collected evidence can be tossed out by a judge. Admissible evidence must leave no doubt that the defendant violated a law.

A naval veteran was taken into custody recently in Virginia Beach following a fatal pedestrian accident. Court papers said the 29-year-old petty officer was drunk while driving a Jeep that hit and injured a man, who later died. The accident victim was a local resident, whose fiancee said was crossing a street on the way to a store.

Police claim the Jeep driver's blood alcohol content level was more than triple the state limit of 0.08 percent. Records showed the defendant had been convicted of two DUI charges since 2007. The naval officer was jailed without bond on charges of DUI second offense and DUI involuntary manslaughter.

The defendant is a cancer patient who had undergone a double lung transplant. The officer was stationed at Portsmouth Naval Medical Center. The judge at the arraignment hearing agreed to honor a request, made by the defendant's sister, to make sure the jailed man received proper medical attention.

Navy officials have observed the legal proceedings but have made no formal moves against the accused man. Intent is not a factor in cases of involuntary manslaughter. However, prosecutors are obliged to prove all other elements of the charge for a conviction – that the defendant caused a death through reckless or dangerous actions and was aware the behavior could cause harm.

Source: Stars and Stripes, "Navy petty officer who hit Va. Beach pedestrian faces DUI charge" Elisabeth Hulette and Margaret Matray, The Virginian-Pilot, May. 07, 2014

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