Amy Locane, a former star of the hit television series “Melrose Place,” has lost another appeal from her sentence for vehicular manslaughter. A New Jersey appellate court issued a ruling that essentially affirmed the length of the original sentence and presumably ended a lengthy criminal proceeding that has included three prior appeals from the original sentence. The court’s opinion provides a glimpse into the facts that judges consider in sentencing convicted DWI defendants.
The conviction and prior appeals
Ms. Locane was originally convicted of vehicular manslaughter in connection with a crash in June of 2010 that killed a New Jersey woman and seriously injured her husband. The first sentence was appealed and determined to have been too lenient.
The case was remanded to the trial court, and the new sentence was likewise determined to have been too lenient. A third sentence was set aside because the trial court failed to follow certain sentencing guidelines.
In its current ruling, the appeals court held that the original sentence properly gave more weight to aggravating factors, such as the severity of the offense and the defendant’s decision to drive when she knew she was clearly intoxicated.
The court rejected the arguments of Ms. Locane’s lawyers that she should receive a reduced sentence because she had no prior criminal record and because she made efforts at rehabilitation.
Ms. Locane has remained in prison during the appeals, and she may have only a shortened remainder of her original sentence. She is currently eligible for parole on December 20, 2024.
The appeals court’s reasons
The appeals court appears to have been significantly influenced by the fact that Ms. Locane refused to take any responsibility for the accident. She first blamed a following vehicle that she claimed was “tailgating” her.
She also argued that the accident occurred in her lane of travel and that factor demonstrated that her conduct was less egregious than other drivers who were convicted of vehicular homicide. The court concluded that the defendant’s blame-shifting began during the trial and has never ceased.
Consulting an attorney about building a defense
The defendant in this case apparently did not serve herself well by adopting what appears to have been a personal defense strategy. Anyone who is facing similar charges may benefit from consulting an experienced criminal defense attorney for an evaluation of the evidence, formulating a helpful defense strategy, and, where appropriate, assistance in negotiating an acceptable plea agreement.