WHEN CAN THE DEFENSE OF ACCIDENT BE USED IN A CRIMINAL CASE PENDING IN A LOS ANGELES COURTHOUSE?
This defense comes up when someone commits an act that is lawful with no intent of doing anything criminal, but causes harm to another or damage to property. In criminal defense, most crimes require the person to do their conduct intentionally. Sometimes in life, people do things with no intent of causing harm or damage, but by some misfortune oR accident they expose themselves to criminal liability. The legal defense of accident can be used to completely absolve a person of criminal liability if it can be shown they had no intent to commit a crime.
A classic case where the defense of accident could apply is where a person takes an item at a store with the intent of paying for it on the way out. However, if they truly forget about the item and walk out of the store without paying for it, they may be able to claim the legal defense of accident to save the day. In this example, if it could be determined that an honest mistake was made, then the police or prosecutor could be convinced to drop the case. If on the other hand, the person who took the item had no money in there pocket and could not explain why they had the lapse in memory, then the prosecutors could likely prove circumstantially that the person intended to steal.
Many of these cases spin on the specific facts and circumstances surrounding the person’s activities. It is important that you sit down with an experienced criminal defense attorney and let them ask you some pointed questions to get to the bottom of whether you are likely to win or lose your case. I find that one of the most important meetings I have with my clients is the first one. This is an opportunity to get their story and set up a game plan that will be successful all the way through the case. Of course it is imperative that the client is honest and open with me so that I can best defend them and not be surprised down the line related to information that pops up and is used against them that they failed to inform me about. Honesty is a two way street and it is important that your attorney is upfront with you as well, so you have reasonable expectations related to the resolution of your case.
LAW RELATED TO THE LEGAL DEFENSE OF ACCIDENT
There are certain crimes that require general or specific intent to be proven at trial. For such crimes, showing that the crime was committed without the intent necessary is a defense. Other crimes require criminal negligence, and in those, proving that the crime was committed by accident, instead of criminal negligence, is a defense as well.
General Intent vs. Specific Intent
Under the common law there is a distinction between specific and general intent crimes. The basic difference between the two is that specific intent crimes require the individual who commits the crime to have a certain intent or purpose when the crime was committed, where as general intent crimes do not.
What is Criminal Negligence?
Criminal Negligence is required for some crimes, and is usually required for crimes where there is a lack of foresight on behalf of the defendant, which allowed foreseeable and avoidable dangers to manifest.
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