A 58 year old man has pled no contest to negligent homicide in a case that his defense attorney calls a “tragic accident.” For this accident, the defendant may serve up to 4.5 months in jail.
On October 28 of last year he was driving a truck pulling a trailer, when that trailer became unhitched and crashed into the vehicle of a 46 year old grandmother. The woman died and the man was charged with a crime.
Although the trailer was found to be “unroad worthy” according to this report from The Grand Rapids Press, the defendant was not found to have been driving recklessly or acting maliciously. This is crucial.
Often the intent behind a criminal act is just as important as the act itself. Why you did something can mean the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony. Intent, called mens rea in the legal world, must be present in some crimes for it to be considered a crime at all.
If you shove someone out of your way when you are angry and exchanging words, you could be charged with assault and battery, a misdemeanor. However, if when you pushed them aside, you were attempting to push them in front of a vehicle or off a cliff (and that can be proven) you could be charged with assault with intent to do great bodily harm, a very serious felony.
This is an extreme example, but goes to show just how much of a role intent can play in the court of law.
Whether or not you intended for the act to occur could potentially get your charges reduced or even dropped. While it may be difficult to prove what the court is calling “identity theft” was an accident, it is definitely something you should speak to your attorney about.
Mens Rea is just one factor that will be considered during the life of your criminal case. If you are worried about what the charges against you might mean for your future, we can help.