Can You Use Committing a Crime Accidentally as a Defense? You Might Be Able To

Can You Use Committing a Crime Accidentally as a Defense? You Might Be Able To

Accidents happen, as the saying goes. Even when something is an accident, a person may be charged with a crime as a result of the event’s results. Consider the case of an automobile accident that results in the death of another individual. Although it may have been an accident, a prosecutor may choose to prosecute the driver of the other car with vehicular manslaughter or another felony, based on the facts of the case.

Lack of intent could be used as a defense in some situations

Despite the fact that you may have been charged with a crime as a consequence of an accident, a California criminal defense attorney may be able to mount a defense based on the notion that your conduct were unintentional, perhaps leading to a not guilty finding. This form of defense is often successful if the following three aspects can be established:

  1. You were not behaving irresponsibly
  2. You were engaged in lawful action at the time of the accident
  3. You had no criminal intent to cause injury

What is the mechanism of this defense? Take, for example, the above-mentioned vehicle collision. If you were driving the car that caused the accident, you’d have to show that you didn’t have any criminal intent (i.e., you weren’t trying to run anyone off the road), that you weren’t acting negligently (i.e., you weren’t drunk, texting while driving, etc.), and that you were acting legally at the time of the accident (you were legally allowed to drive). If you can’t establish any of those components — for example, if you were speeding — your defense will very certainly fail.

Some crimes require specific intent

You must act with either a specific or general intent in order to commit some crimes. To put it another way, you must either expressly plan the outcome of your conduct — such as someone dying or being injured — or you must have the broad purpose to do harm. If you are charged with a crime that requires the prosecution to establish intent, an accident defense is likely to be successful. You will most likely be found not guilty if the prosecution cannot establish that you planned a specific consequence and you can show that you had no criminal intent.

If you’re charged with a felony based on carelessness rather than intent, an “accident” defense will exonerate you as long as your actions were legal and unintentional. This defense will most likely succeed if you were not operating with a callous disregard for human life. However, under California law, even ordinary carelessness is sufficient to be convicted of vehicular manslaughter; if you cause another person’s death while driving because you are negligent — even if you are not criminally negligent — you might be charged with this felony.

If you have been charged with a crime, you will need the assistance of a qualified California criminal defense attorney. Call 714-760-4088 or email now to book a free first consultation and learn how Chambers Law Firm can help you.

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