As most West Virginia residents know, the criminal consequences for driving while impaired can be pretty significant. These may include license suspension, fines and jail time -- among various others. For those who are charged with a a DUI resulting in death, however, the penalties can very quickly become far more severe.
Recently, a 24-year-old woman pleaded no contest in a Berkeley County court with respect to an incident that occurred last December. Police believe this individual was impaired when she struck a pedestrian on Route 9, then fled the scene. She was charged with failing to remain at the scene and driving while impaired causing death. She pleaded guilty to the hit-and-run charge and entered a plea of no contest to a misdemeanor DUI charge.
Why might a person accused of such offenses choose plead no contest? There are a number of reasons as to why, actually. Often, a plea is made in exchange for a reduction in charges or for favorable consideration by the court at sentencing. Ultimately, she and her attorney had to make the decision that they felt was best for her specific situation. This will be the case for anyone who finds themselves in similar circumstances.
An attorney's job is not done after a plea is entered or a conviction secured. In this individual's case, according to the laws of West Virginia, the penalties she may face for this DUI charge include imprisonment of up to five years and hefty fines. The accused is due back in court for sentencing at the end of November. Before then, her attorney will be working diligently toward the goal of minimizing the punishment she is to receive. Further assistance may be provided after the fact to appeal any court decisions, when appropriate.
Source: dailyjournal.net, "Suspect in fatal Berkeley hit-and-run pleads guilty to felony, faces up to 5 years in prison", Sept. 15, 2015