felony hit and run charge (Vehicle Code Sections 20001 to 20003). Currently he is facing an additional charge of voluntary manslaughter and looking at up to 17 years in prison. (Penal Code Sections 192, 192.5 and 193).
Bell has a record in Orange County for driving related offenses. In 2009 he was charged with DUI and driving with a suspended license. In August of this year he was convicted of a misdemeanor hit and run and driving under the influence and was sentenced to 10 days jail. His license has been suspended since October. Felony Hit and Run causing death can cause a person to be sentenced for up to 4 years in prison.
Notably, the actual accident which caused the death of the children is NOT the crime in this instance; the crime is leaving the scene. Many accidents occur with the unfortunate result of people dying but that does not make it a crime. Making a mistake also known as simple negligence that results in someone dying is not a crime and is usually handled through the insurance companies like any other car accident as a civil matter.
Oftentimes people flee the scene of the accident because they are under the influence. In that case, if the authorities find them to have killed someone, while under the influence, they can also be sentenced to state prison. Importantly, people with prior convictions for drunk driving who commit another drunk driving offense and kill someone may now be charged with murder under the Watson Rule, referring to the case of People v. Watson. A conviction in that instance can lead to a sentence of 15 years to life.
Criminal Law Updates Orange County Law Offices of William W. Bruzzo (714) 547-4636.