The Concept of Merger | Paulding County criminal defense lawyer
It is important to hire aPaulding county criminal defense lawyer who understands the law as it relates to merger. Merger is a concept relating to what charges consolidate into what charges. If the concept of merger is not understood then you could end up being convicted and sentenced on charges that should have merged as a matter of law. This can have adverse effects on sentencing requiring more time in jail or on probation that otherwise would not have been required had the attorney understood the concept of merger. The following are some cases that deal with merger as it relates to vehicular homicide and the underlying predicate offenses that go along with it.
Upon a conviction for 2nd degree vehicular homicide, the misdemeanor which gave rise to the vehicular homicide is a lesser included offense, and is considered merged with the greater offense of vehicular homicide. Rank v. State 179 Ga. App. 28 (1986). Even on a guilty plea for a single accident incident of DUI resulting in the vehicular homicide of 3 persons, a judge may sentence to 3 consecutive maximum sentences. Hence, 45 years in prison is a legal sentence under Georgia law even for plea of guilty. Cox v. State, 243 Ga. App. 668, (2000). Where the jury does not reveal which of the 2 lesser included offenses serve as a foundation for vehicular homicide verdict where more than one lesser included offense exists, a defendant may not be sentenced on either of the lesser included offenses. McNabb v. State 180 Ga. App. 723 (1986). Howard v. State 182 Ga. App. 403 (1987). In Johnson v. State, 184 Ga. App. 745 (1987), where the defendant was tried for first-degree vehicular homicide and DUI and where the jury convicted defendant of 1st degree vehicular homicide, there was no merit to defendant's argument that since he was found not guilty of DUI, he cannot be sentence for felony vehicular homicide. In Smith v. State 222 Ga. App. 701 (1996), the Georgia Court of Appeals refused to follow the merger doctrine in a case having alternate serious driving offenses of DUI and attempting to elude. Because of the ultimate conviction of first-degree criminal homicide plus both of the underlying serious offenses and all other offenses Smith was indicted for, the subsequent sentencing on all charges was deemed appropriate. This is probably bad case law as the Court of Appeals does not cite appropriate cases.
Contact a Paulding county criminal defense lawyer today to review your case and give you the best defense available.