A heartbreaking story appeared in the news in early September 2017. We may never know more details than what is provided in the police report.
A toddler was accidentally run over by a car during a party at a private residence in after in Mason Township, Michigan.
Police did not suspect that any alcohol or drugs were involved according to MLive. The person driving the car is fully cooperating with police.
One can only imagine what kind of heartbreak and pain is happening for this family.
You can also put yourself in the shoes of the person who was driving the car and realize his or her life will be changed forever, even if they don’t see jail time.
Can you be charged with a crime for an accidental death like this one?
Involuntary Manslaughter is a charge that usually applies when someone is killed as a result of recklessness or criminal negligence.
It can also apply when death occurs because of an unlawful act that is a misdemeanor or low-level felony such as a DUI.
Involuntary Manslaughter is also called criminally negligent homicide. In this case, the law recognizes that the victim’s death was unintended.
In this case, if the person driving the car could be proved to have pulled into the driveway recklessly or had been using a cell phone, or if it turned out the driver had been under the influence of alcohol, the charge of involuntary manslaughter could apply.
Involuntary Manslaughter Conditions
Three conditions which make an act involuntary manslaughter are:
- A death occurred as a result of the defendant’s actions.
- The defendant’s actions were inherently dangerous to others (such as driving while texting or being drunk) or done with reckless disregard for human life (such as blazing into a driveway at 50 mph).
- The defendant knew or should have realized the actions would be a threat to the lives of others.
There is nothing in this story that would suggest any of these conditions were met. However, it will be up to the prosecutor to determine if criminal charges will be brought against the person who drove the car.
Ultimately, the question will be whether he or she should have been looking more carefully or driving more slowly in a driveway.
If the prosecutor determines that the defendant was indeed criminally negligent, he or she could face up to 15 years in prison, a $7,500 fine and restitution to the victim’s family.
In addition to this, a civil suit for wrongful death could be brought to the defendant by the victim’s family. In civil court, the standard for burden of proof to win a case is much lower.
Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is not required. Only a preponderance of evidence (a greater weight of evidence) that the defendant did the crime.
In any case, the accidental death of a toddler is a tragedy. If you are facing criminal charges for a crime of this nature, it is going to change your life.
There is hope that you can avoid a prison sentence with a good defense. It is critical that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney with any questions you have about your charge.
Call my office today.