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People v. McNiece

181 Cal. App. 3d 1048 (1986)

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People v. McNiece

California Court of Appeal

181 Cal. App. 3d 1048 (1986)

Facts

James McNiece (defendant) was charged with vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol with a blood alcohol level of at least .10, and DUI with injury. McNiece drove through a stop sign and struck a car that had the right of way, killing one woman in the car and seriously injuring the other woman. McNiece’s blood alcohol level about an hour after the accident was .155. After a seven-day trial, a jury convicted McNiece of all three charges. The trial court sentenced McNiece to six years of incarceration for vehicular manslaughter plus eight months of incarceration for DUI with injury. Six years was the middle of the suggested sentencing range for vehicular manslaughter. The trial court provided several reasons for sentencing McNiece to confinement rather than probation, including (1) the seriousness of McNiece’s crime, (2) the particular vulnerability of the victims, and (3) the great bodily injury McNiece had inflicted. The court also noted that aggravating and mitigating factors balanced out and thus justified sentencing McNiece to the middle of the suggested sentencing range. McNiece appealed, raising several issues, including an argument that his six-year base sentence constituted cruel and unusual punishment because his blood alcohol level did not demonstrate a high degree of culpability and because he had no prior criminal record.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Hanson, J.)

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