On April 9, 2009 Matthew Markham was driving on High Street with his friend Sean Whalen and Erik Joudrey. While engaged in a conversation with one of his passengers Markham missed a turn in the road and hit two trees. Whalen was taken by ambulance to a local hospital where he died shortly after his arrival. Markham and Joudrey were also treated for injuries. Police reports indicate that all three were drinking earlier in the evening and that speed was a factor in the crash. This past Friday Markham was arrested on charges of motor vehicle homicide while OUI and OUI with serious bodily injury. Right now charges are pending in the Milford District Court.
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 24G establishes the crime of motor vehicle homicide in Massachusetts. This law allows the district attorney to charge this crime as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the facts of the case. The felony version of this law permits a sentence of up to fifteen years in state prison and has a one year mandatory minimum sentence. The misdemeanor version of this crime has a maximum two and one half year house of correction sentence and a thirty day minimum. The district court has jurisdiction over both felony and misdemeanor motor vehicle homicide cases however no one can be sentenced for more than two and one half years if this case is prosecuted in the district court.
The article does not clarify under which section Markham has been charged. You always hope that the prosecution is fair in the manner in which it charges crimes in Massachusetts. There is a fine line between felony motor vehicle homicide OUI and misdemeanor motor vehicle homicide OUI. If the felony is charged good lawyers can often convince judges or a jury that the defendant is not guilty of this crime but rather a lesser crime, the misdemeanor. If successful the judge then has more flexibility in his or her choice of sentence.
Motor vehicle homicide while OUI in Massachusetts is a crime that Attorney Stephen Neyman defends. Choosing the right lawyer is critical in a case like this one. A good lawyer will often be able to persuade a jury or judge that the facts of this case do not fit with the charge. This can result in a reduction of the crime to a lesser included offense or in some cases a dismissal or acquittal.
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