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PG&E Files for Bankruptcy As It Faces Potential Criminal Liability for Its Role in California Wildfires

February 8, 2019

The case demonstrates the importance of carefully following conditions of probation.

PG&E Files for Bankruptcy As It Faces Potential Criminal Liability for Its Role in California Wildfires

The nation’s largest utility company, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., is facing mounting legal troubles as a federal judge has determined that it violated its parole from a 2010 criminal case — a day after it filed for bankruptcy. PG&E has been implicated in the 2018 Camp Fire, the most destructive wildfire in California history. This fire may have started as a result of PG&E’s failure to maintain its power lines.

Earlier in January, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra argued that PG&E had violated its probation in the federal criminal case involving the 2010 San Bruno gas pipeline explosion. In a brief, Becerra argued that PG&E could be liable for voluntary manslaughter for the 86 people who died in the Camp Fire.

According to a criminal defense attorney Los Angeles, CA, involuntary manslaughter may be charged when a person or entity kills someone unintentionally (1) while committing a crime that is not an inherently dangerous California felony; or (2) while committing a lawful act which might produce death, without due caution.

In the second scenario, a prosecutor may make a showing of criminal negligence, which involves acting in a reckless way that creates a high risk of death or great bodily injury. In other words, if it can be proven that PG&E acted with criminal negligence, then they may be held responsible for the deaths of the 86 people who died in the Camp Fire.

PG&E may also face additional conditions on their current federal probation. The judge in its probation case found that the utility company violated its probation by failing to notify probation officials that a prosecutor’s office had opened an investigation into PG&E’s role in a 2017 California wildfire. The judge will set a sentencing date for the probation violation, and may impose additional probation conditions at a later date.

The PG&E case is unique, in that it involves a major public utility that is being held responsible for its actions. However, the recent news regarding PG&E is a good reminder of the importance of following all conditions of probation.

As an experienced criminal defense attorney Los Angeles, CA can explain, in many California cases, a judge may impose probation rather than a term of imprisonment. This is often more favorable to defendants than spending time in jail. In order to successfully complete probation, a defendant must comply with all terms of probation. A failure to do so may result in (1) a separate criminal charge for violation of probation; and/or (2) additional probation terms being imposed. If you do not understand the terms of your probation, consult with your criminal defense attorney Los Angeles, CA before agreeing to probation.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, you will need a skilled criminal defense attorney Los Angeles, CA to represent you. At the Chambers Law Firm, we fight for our clients’ rights and their freedom. Contact us today at 855-397-0210 or dchambers@clfca.com to schedule a free initial consultation.

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