A 33-year-old man is being charged with motor vehicle manslaughter and child abuse after a grisly car accident in Maryland. According to prosecutors, the man was driving with his son, age 4, and his stepdaughter, age 7, in the back seat. As he neared an intersection, the man allegedly swerved into a turn lane, struck two cars, hopped a curb and hit a brick retaining wall, striking a tree and two electric polls in the process. The driver almost completely severed his arm in the accident. Unfortunately, the 4-year-old was killed after being thrown from the vehicle.
Motor vehicle accidents happen every day. While drinking and driving is a well-known criminal offense, accidents that happen without drugs or alcohol can still lead to a criminal prosecution. Particularly when someone is killed, the outcry may be enough for authorities to seek criminal penalties against a driver for what would normally amount to mere negligence.
Those charged with such crimes need to understand what they are up against. Prosecutors have a lot of discretion in charging someone with a crime that involves a lesser mental state like recklessness or criminal negligence. This is often a subjective determination that may be overlooked if no one got hurt. As a result, the misfortune of injuring someone else while driving may force a person with no criminal history to be burdened with a criminal conviction.
No matter the circumstances, those charged with related offenses may want to contact a local Upper Marlboro attorney. An attorney may be able to help the accused avoid unnecessary penalties.
Source: WUSA9, "Man indicted in crash that killed 4 year-old son," Jan. 15, 2014