A recent article in the The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that 48-year-old John Leck pleaded guilty to charges of third-degree murder, homicide by motor vehicle while driving intoxicated, and driving under the influence. The charges stemmed from an early morning July 2012 crash in which Leck hit a motorcycle driven by a veteran police officer.
Brian Lorenzo, 48, died in the head-on collision that occurred as Leck was driving his Audi sedan the wrong way down I-95 at an estimated 65 mph. Lorenzo was off duty and headed home following his shift when the accident occurred. Leck allegedly had spent four hours drinking at a TGI Friday’s prior to the accident; shortly after the accident, Leck’s blood alcohol content measured at 0.218 percent, which, as your Pennsylvania DUI lawyer well knows, is almost three times the legal limit.
On the brink of beginning his jury trial on these criminal charges, Leck opted to change his plea to guilty, despite the risk of a potential prison sentence of 25 to 50 years. The judge presiding over the case noted that Leck had previously rejected a plea agreement that would have sentenced him to a 10- to 20-year prison term. Nonetheless, Leck chose to forgo the trial proceedings and plead guilty. His sentencing is scheduled for December 2.
It is very common in all types of criminal cases for individuals who are accused of crimes to enter into a plea agreement with the prosecution. A plea agreement requires a defendant to plead guilty to certain charges; in exchange for the guilty plea, the individual often receives a lesser sentence than he or she might receive following a conviction at trial. Another benefit of the plea agreement is a sense of certainty about one’s fate. When a defendant signs a plea agreement, he or she knows exactly what is required, including any jail or prison terms.
In this case, however, Leck simply pleaded guilty without a plea agreement. This means that the judge will determine Leck’s punishment at a subsequent hearing. There are many reasons that a defendant might choose to follow this path. For instance, an individual might not like the plea agreement offered by the prosecution, but also might be unwilling to take his or her chances at trial. The defendant may hope for a lesser sentence or conviction than would be reached by a jury of his peers.
Another option, of course, would have been for Leck to proceed to trial as planned. While this fatal DUI case seems relatively straightforward, there are often many opportunities in such cases to challenge the charges. For example, if a defendant’s blood alcohol content was measured by a breathalyzer machine, the measurement may have been negatively affected by faulty equipment, errors by the operator of the equipment, or other inconsistencies. Likewise, other factors might have impacted a defendant’s driving, such as the usage of prescription medications, fatigue, or an emotionally upsetting situation. In some cases, evidence of this nature can help disprove the charges or result in lesser penalties.
The skills, experience, and knowledge of a seasoned Pennsylvania DUI lawyer can benefit individuals such as Leck who are charged with very serious crimes. Given the potential outcome of a case like this, engaging the help of such an attorney is absolutely essential. Do not delay in contacting The Law Offices of Steven E. Kellis today to schedule your consultation.