Using Accident Defense in California Criminal Cases

Sometimes a person commits an act with no intent to hurt anyone. Still, because of certain unanticipated circumstances, another is injured, or death results and the police decide to arrest that person, and the prosecutor charges them with a crime.

Suppose the person can show they had no criminal intent and did not act with criminal negligence but instead did something by accident. In that case, they may have a defense that will protect them from criminal responsibility.

There are all kinds of examples and cases where an injury occurs to another because someone did something by accident and had no intent to hurt anyone. To best evaluate whether you can assert the defense of accident or any other defense that can be used to help you, you must meet with an expert, be honest with them and let them give you a step-by-step assessment of your chances and choices.

The Intent is the Key Element of the Crime

It doesn't come up too often that an accident can be used as a defense in a criminal case, but the crucial element, as you might guess, is intent.  In other words, you must have the intent to commit a particular crime or to do something criminal to be prosecuted and convicted for a crime. I do get a lot of cases where you see that the person involved doesn't have any illegal purpose.

In other words, they're not trying to gain an advantage, they're not trying to do something unlawful, they're not trying to do something that they or a reasonable person should know that they shouldn't be doing, but they're simply trying to do something that they usually do, or that's lawful, and somehow something horrible happens.

So, when you've got a situation where you believe you can use a defense of accident, your best bet is to sit down with somebody like me who has been doing this for twenty-five years so we can see if that is a realistic defense.

For example, if somebody drinks a bunch of alcohol and then becomes in some accident, that's not going to be grounds to assert the accident defense because you shouldn't be drinking a bunch of alcohol and driving.

Then tragedy occurs that, of course, you didn't mean to happen, but the issue becomes, you should know before you start thinking that when you drink and get behind the wheel of a car, accidents occur.

So, that will not be a valid defense in a criminal case. To assert an accident as a defense, you're going to need some good facts that a jury would look at and say; we're not going to hold this person criminally liable or responsible for this crime because we don't believe this person honestly had any criminal intent in their mind.

If you've got that type of a situation, then you're in a much stronger position to argue the accident defense in a Los Angeles criminal case and be successful.

Consult With Our Lawyers To Review Your Case

The first step is to pick up the phone and make the phone call.  Let's talk about what happened, and I can evaluate whether it truly is an accident.

Also, whether the prosecutors will buy that and whether the judge will, and if not, sometimes we have to take it to a jury and convince a jury that it was a pure accident and there was no criminal intent. Therefore, there should be no criminal conviction.