DEFENSE: How Raiders’ Henry Ruggs III Can Legally Fight In Crash Aftermath. Defense Strategies Explained.
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Here we explain how Raiders’ Henry Ruggs III, could potentially evade a two-year minimum sentence if he’s charged with a felony as is being reported by various news outlets.
Henry Ruggs may be staring down a steep prison sentence if he is charged and convicted with DUI resulting in death, following a horrific crash Tuesday morning that allegedly sent another car up in flames and left its driver dead.
News outlets, including TMZ Sports, are reporting that cops say Ruggs was “impaired” on scene and later treated at a local hospital for non-life threatening injuries and they plan to charge him with the very serious felony of DUI resulting in death.
In Nevada, if convicted of such a B felony, the minimum sentence is two years and could go up to twenty, though unlikely to be on the high end for a first time offender.
Ruggs’ defense team is kicking into gear, asking people not to rush to judgment while his attorneys do their own investigation. How will they go about defending Ruggs?
Ruggs’ defense team can take two approaches if he is charged. The first is to seek a plea deal and the second is to defend against the actual charges to stop prosecutors from convincing a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that Ruggs is guilty.
On the plea deal front, prosecutors won’t just let Ruggs off the hook if in fact he was impaired and caused someone’s death.
To attempt to get his charges reduced or to disprove any allegations, Ruggs’ attorneys will have to first prove that Ruggs was not driving under the influence.
They can do this in several ways:
First option: claim the police administered a field sobriety test or breath or blood test incorrectly. This is where any available body cam video would come in handy to assist with or disprove their claim.
Next, the defense could also claim that Ruggs had a rising blood alcohol content level that was legal when he was driving but it had risen to illegal levels by the time the tests were taken, after the accident.
Sometimes medical conditions like GERD can cause inaccurate results from breathalyzers, but Ruggs would need medical documentation of such a preexisting condition.
A less likely to succeed approach, would be to claim Ruggs didn’t start drinking until after the accident.
Let’s face it though, if his tests come back showing intoxication or substance abuse above the legal limit, overall it’ll be very difficult to overcome that, absent some glaring test administration error caught on camera.
So if that doesn’t work, Ruggs’ attorneys will want to attack the allegation that Ruggs’ behavior caused the death of the passenger in the Toyota SUV.
Eyewitnesses, recordings from bystander phones, law enforcement reports, GPS records, accident reconstruction experts, local video from businesses and black box records can all help to figure out the exact cause of the driver’s death. Did the Toyota go up in flames because of a defect or material inside the car and the fire caused the death? Was it due to the crash? If so, who caused the crash.
Even if Ruggs was under the influence, as alleged, it does not mean that he was necessarily above the legal limit or that the other driver didn’t contribute in some way to the accident, such as speeding or making an illegal turn.
The exact sequence of events must be reconstructed with available evidence to determine if Ruggs’ actions were so sufficiently related to the crash as to actually, proximately cause the driver’s death. Prosecutors would have to show that there were no strong contributing or intervening factors from the other car or third parties.
If there is enough evidence to raise reasonable doubt that Ruggs was impaired or that he caused the death of someone (both must be proven), it could help to prevent a formal charge or help his attorneys convince prosecutors to offer a reduced charge instead.
For example, if a prosecutor proves that Ruggs was in fact driving under the influence but can’t prove the second element, that he caused the other driver’s death, then Ruggs could be charged with “reckless driving causing death.” It is still a class B felony but with a 1 to 6 year prison sentence instead of the 2 to 20 year one.
If a prosecutor can prove that Ruggs did cause the other driver’s death but can’t prove he was under the influence then he could be charged with “vehicular manslaughter,” which is a misdemeanor in Nevada with jail time of up to six months.
We have seen similar outcomes with other NFL players in their DUI cases, such as Cowboys’ Josh Brent and Saints player Donte Stallworth. Specifically in cases where someone has died, players were charged with misdemeanors and ended up serving six months or less for the offense. For more on those cases, and how they could provide clues as to how Ruggs’ case could play out, read this article below! Plus, does the NFL have a DUI problem? We cover it all, so read on…