COULD IT GET WORSE FOR CHRIS SOULES?

Soules penalties worse

Yesterday’s post discussed Chris Soules potential civil and criminal liability. To keep it simple, I left out one vital piece of the puzzle. So, could it get worse for Chris Soules? Oh ya!

As I explained yesterday, Chris Soules is charged with violating Iowa Code Section 321.261 – Commonly referred to as Leaving the Scene of an Accident. I believe the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Department is likely considering whether a basis exists for Vehicular Homicide by OWI charges (Iowa Code Section 707.6A). Individually, the charges carry a 5 year and a 25 year prison term respectively. However, in Iowa, prison terms are indeterminate. This means the Iowa Parole Board gets to decide when a defendant will be released from custody. If a defendant receives a 5 year sentence, he or she will do anywhere from 1 day up to 5 years at the discretion of the Iowa Parole Board .

However, under Iowa Code Section 902.12, when a person is convicted of BOTHLeaving the Scene of an Accident AND Vehicular Homicide by OWI – the Vehicular Homicide 25 year prison sentence comes with a mandatory minimum 70%. Thus, if Chris Soules were convicted of both, he would face 17.5 years in prison before he became parole eligible (minus some good time credits of course). So ya, it can ‘mandatory minimum’ worse.

Chris Soules 911 Call

Des Moines based KCCI Television has posted an audio recording of Chris Soules 911 call. He called 911 and attempted to help Mosher before fleeing. Warning: Some might find this disturbing. Click Here.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO CHRIS SOULES?

Let me start off by noting that while this is a news story many people are interested in, a man died.  According to the Iowa State Patrol, 66-year-old Kenneth Mosher, a farmer from Aurora, Iowa, was killed Monday night when Soules truck rear ended Mosher’s tractor sending it and him into a ditch. Mosher was likely someone’s husband, father, brother and/or grandfather. Bear that in mind as we discuss what might happen to Chris Soules.

CRASH FACTS

At around 8:30 p.m. Monday night, Kenneth Mosher was driving a tractor in the 1000 block of Slater Avenue just north of Aurora, Iowa. According to police reports Soules was driving a 2008 Chevy pickup when he allegedly crashed into the back of Mosher’s tractor sending Mosher into the ditch and Soules into the opposite ditch. As noted, Mosher later died from his injuries. Apparently, Soules fled on foot but was apprehended a short time later and taken to the hospital. He has been charged with Leaving the Scene of an Accident Causing Death in violation of Iowa Code Section 321.261, A Class D Felony.

THE CRIMINAL COMPLAINT

Click here for the Chris Soules Criminal Complaint filed this morning in Buchanan County, Iowa.

CONSEQUENCES

LEAVING THE SCENE CAUSING DEATH

Iowa Code Section 321.261 states:

“The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or death of any person shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close as possible and if able, shall then return to and remain at the scene of the accident in accordance with section 321.263. Every such stop shall be made without obstructing traffic more than is necessary.”

Failing to stop when an accident causes someone’s death is a Class D Felony. In Iowa, Class D Felonies are punishable by a maximum indeterminate prison term of five years. That means if found guilty, Soules could be sentenced to five years in prison. However, he would likely serve far less than five years due to Iowa’s good time credit laws. He would also be eligible for probation in lieu of prison.

VEHICULAR HOMICIDE BY OWI

Iowa Code Section 707.6A states:

“A person commits a class “B” felony when the person unintentionally causes the death of another by operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, as prohibited by section 321J.2.”

You might be wondering at this point why I have included vehicular homicide as a potential consequence? It has been reported that alcohol was found at the scene of the crash. The Buchanan County Sheriff’s Department also stated that Soules was taken to the hospital after he was apprehended. He may have been asked to submit to field sobriety tests, a breath test, or a give blood or urine sample. If he did not do so voluntarily, a warrant may have been obtained to collect a blood sample for chemical testing. Thus, it seems vehicular homicide is a potential charge.

Causing the unintentional death of another by operating while intoxicated (OWI) is a Class B Felony in Iowa. Class B Felonies are punishable by a maximum indeterminate term of 25 years in prison. Additionally, if convicted of this crime, Iowa law requires the Court to sentence Soules to prison. Probation is not an option.

CIVIL LAWSUIT CONSIDERATIONS

Reports are that Soules is worth over 1 million dollars. A wrongful death civil lawsuit is likely to follow any criminal case. If Soules is convicted of either of the above charges he will likely be precluded from claiming he “did not do it” in any civil trial. Thus, the only question would be how much money to award the victim’s estate and any other plaintiffs. Such an award would be offset by any restitution ordered in the criminal case.

On the other hand, should Soules be acquitted, he can challenge the “what happened” in a civil lawsuit. The burden of proof in a civil case is not beyond a reasonable doubt, however. It is merely, a preponderance of the evidence. So his defense would likely be more difficult. Hence, why OJ was acquitted criminally but found liable in civil court.

If Soules were to be found liable, any judgment awarded the plaintiffs could be executed against Soules property, including his farms.

http://www.tmz.com/videos/0_0hi77kin – Court Video

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

Every person in the United States is considered innocent until proven guilty. Chris Soules is an innocent man unless and until the State of Iowa proves his guilt beyond and to the exclusion of all reasonable doubt. That said, there is no doubt that he killed a man last night. That does not mean his actions were criminal but they were most definitely tragic.

 

The team at Stowers & Sarcone, PLC is dedicating to providing only the highest quality criminal defense. If you or a loved one are charged with a crime you need the best possible defense. Visit our website and call us now!