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  #1 (permalink)
aqfcdnh631 : Auto Accident. That is what they called it when F Scott Fitzgerald's character Daisy Buchanan slammed into her husband's lover Myrtle Wilson in the 1920s novel "The Great Gatsby." Other characters Jordan Baker said to Nick Carroway, "it takes two to make an accident."
When one automobile gets into a collision with another automobile, it is technically an "accident." One driver does something careless and the other driver fails to defend himself against the carelessness of the other driver which is also carelessness on his part. If you are in a hurry and cut me off from a side street, I need to be mindful of your so that I can slow my car down to allow you to pass in front of me.
But today, more and more, people are self centered and self serving. We think about getting on time to work, to school, meeting friends and the faster we get there, the better. The roads become like race tracks where the first guy to get to his destination wins. We cut in front of other drivers as if its the Indy 500, sneaking up on the other driver's blind side, then cutting him off when he least suspects.
Its all in good fun, until somebody dies on the road due to another driver's carelessness, self centered and self serving attitude.
There is a recent auto accident that has made the headlines in Massachusetts. A teenage boy, just starting off with his new junior's driver's license. But like most teenagers this teenage boy belongs to Generation Text. These teens text all the time, even behind the wheel of a moving automobile. When you put a Generation Texter behind the wheel of an automobile you might as well be shoving a stick of dynamite into the gas tank. This is an accident waiting to happen.
And for a middle aged father of several children, death is what he got from the Generation Texter behind the wheel of the other auto.
Death on the roads. Its as old as the automobile itself. Even older if you count the number of fatalities from horse drawn carriages, persons on horseback, trains and street cars. But did the collision between the Texting Teen and the middle aged man result in a death by auto accident or death by vehicular homicide?
When I think of Vehicular Homicide I think of a Road Rage fueled maniac mowing me down at full speed because I refused to run the changing light at the last traffic light. So the raging truck driver, with the alcoholic shakes, decides that I am standing between him and his next drink, so he revs up to 100 miles an hour and runs my Hyundai Accent off the road, killing me instantly. That to me is Vehicular Homicide.
The teenager who caused the death of this middle aged man, husband and father will serve two concurrent years in jail. That is what the judge sentenced him to but because he sentenced him in this way, by the time his attorney did some finagling, the teen will actually serve one year in jail. With good behavior he may be able to transfer to house arrest, or a reduce sentence of a matter of months. The judge has also suspended his driver's license for 15 years so that the Texting teen may not be driving again until well into his thirties. But seeing as this accident occurred in Massachusetts this Generation Texter can simply take a Spanish course at the Berlitz School, and see if he can reapply for a driver's license as a migrant worker from some Latin American country, complete with a bogus Social Security Number.
As for the rest of us, beware that the cops now have another excuse to pull you over. Now that Whitey Bulger is serving out his jail sentence awaiting trial, they need some more activity in between Donut and Pizza runs.
The ambulance chasers in the Boston area, excuse me, the lawyers are going crazy since this case unfolded. What do you think?
Do you consider a driver who kills another person in a car to be an accident or homicide?

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  #2 (permalink)
stoffCitsmord : It depends on the facts of the case and the law under which the case is being prosecuted.
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  #3 (permalink)
jihuo1408g61 : The difference between an accident and homicide is intent. A person who intentionally runs into the spouse's lover would be committing a homicide. The person who caused an accident because they were texting was an accident.

However, just because the incident is an accident does not relieve the individual of responsibility for the results.
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  #4 (permalink)
anteftAntitle : I consider it to be bad, regardless of the intent. Why does intent matter, the cars are just as wrecked, and people are just as injured/dead.
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  #5 (permalink)
heageweesee : Whenever one person kills another, that's homicide. That's what homicide means, killing a person.

We divide homicide into several categories. The worst category is premeditated murder, planning to kill someone, hiring someone to kill someone, etc. Then there's an unpremeditated category, a 'crime of passion', where you killed him/her on purpose but hadn't planned on it. Then there's 'manslaughter', killing someone by accident through negligence. That's the kid texting in the car. While that's still a crime, still wrong, and should be punished, it isn't the same as if he'd deliberately chased the guy with his car and ran him down. Finally there's 'justifiable homicide', like killing someone to prevent him from killing someone else, or in true self-defense.

I think 'vehicular homicide' is almost always accidental. We don't forgive accidents caused by negligence or carelessness, and texting would be evidence of that. Two years seems light in some ways but we're dealing with a teenager here and his life will never be the same. I think George Zimmerman could be MUCH more guilty, having actually aimed a gun and pulled the trigger.
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  #6 (permalink)
Jennitin79 : Today, I got in a fender bender. No one was hurt.

I was stopped at a stop light, and went to merge right. I looked over my shoulder to check traffic in the right lane and accelerated, but by the time I looked ahead I had clipped the left rear bumper of the car stopped in front of me.

The police charged me with careless driving, which requires that they prove I acted in a "careless and imprudent manner, without due regard for the width, grade, curves, corners, traffic, and use of the streets and highways and all other attendant circumstances." CRS 42-4-1402. It is a criminal offense chargeable by 90 days in jail, thus there's a jury trial on the table.

I gave a statement to the police saying exactly what I said above, but there are no other witnesses.

I don't believe they can show evidence sufficient to prove my mental state beyond a reasonable doubt. Particularly because looking over your shoulder before merging is taught in drivers ed. I wasn't distracted or anything. Do you agree, lawyers/potential jurors?

My other question is what to do next, I'd rather not hire a lawyer due to expense. My first reaction would be to move for dismissal, but I'm not really familiar with criminal procedure. Second, I'm not familiar with the burden of proof for carelessness, and I can't find any relevant case law on the point.

Otherwise, I would discuss a plea with the prosecutor. However, I'm not sure that they can prove a lesser offense based solely on the fact an accident occurred, even the strict liability ones. The only other one I can think of is § 42-4-1008, Following too closely. But one doesn't "follow" a car stopped at a traffic light. If there isn't a viable alternative, than I shouldn't plea down and go all for nothing on the careless driving charge.

Finally - I acknowledge that no respondents are providing legal advice. Don't worry, I won't rely on it.

Thanks all
Thanks for the response, Quizzard.
However, yes, there is a mental state requirement for mental state.
"Both offenses of reckless driving and careless driving consist of elements of fact of driving a motor vehicle and STATE OF MIND in “disregard” of or “without due regard” for safety; and two offenses differ only in that degree of negligence required is far more culpable in reckless driving, although it falls short of intentional wrongdoing." People v. Chapman, 557 P.2d 1211.
"However, yes, there is a mental state requirement for mental state."
Sorry, typo. I mean that there is a mental state requirement for careless driving.
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  #7 (permalink)
camarok : ??You tried to change lanes and in the process hit the STOPPED vehicle in front of you. What would YOU call it other than careless?

They do not have to prove your 'mental state', that the act was careless is evident from the results.
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  #8 (permalink)
hevyradyday : so i left my daughter with my husband who is active duty military to care for our daughter while i move things back to texas , were in virginia now and cps took my daughter because they said i left her in a unsafe place with no supervision he is also being charged with the same thing even though they took her from him.He took her on the ship why idk i thought he would be going back to the house i did not know he was restricted to the ship ..i did already get a lawyer but im still scared i tryed to contact him tonight but its late the cps lady called and said i have to turn over her ss card and shot records and birth certifcate.Do i have to since we have court on monday ..my daughter has never been abused !!i have no crimial record ...my lawyer said they are going to fight that i am an unfit parent and unable to care for her but thats not the case i just thought it would be safer to drive down there since my ac dont work fly back to get her and fly back down to texas!!I ve only lived in virginia since april 11th im just really scared and i feel like they dont want me to have her.They said i could get someone up here to take custody but everybody i know is in texas my uncle is coming up here but i scared that because he doesnt live here they wont give him custody cps is doing a home study on there house tomorrow.Does this make me unfit?do i have to get them the ss card and ect. in order to see my daughter tomorrow?why are they all of a suden asking for it but not before are they planing to keep my child?
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  #9 (permalink)
Alexesshedrin : You do need an attorney.
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  #10 (permalink)
HiveGragree : My bf and I were in a wreck on march 5, we both had back injuries, I had neck injuries too.We been going to the chiropractor and just got released last week.we only have one lawyer who is representing the both of us.He called and told my boyfriend that we should receive a settlement in about 4 weeks. my question is Will they file the case as one claim and give us one check for the wreck?my boyfriend said that he can do that but I dont think its fair because we had differentt injuries.we are not married either.if it comes in my boyfriends name he will not give me any money, thats how selfish he is&the lawyer already told him (verbal&written) that since he owes $11000 in child support, thats where his settlement is going.....So will they give us one check or separate???
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