Today I read a sad article in the Metrowest Daily News by Norm Miller. The story focuses on the tragic death of Robert Weitzler who was killed in a car accident this past weekend in front of his residence. According to a previous article Mr. Weitzler was checking his mail in front of his Edmunds Road home at a about 4 p.m. when he was struck by a Mercedes. The crash caused fatal injuries to Mr. Weitzler and he passed away over the weekend. The driver of the Mercedes has been identified as Reginaldo Nascimento of Marlborough. Mr. Nascimento had a valid license at the time of the crash according to the MIddlesex District Attorney's Office.
To this point no charges have been filed in the accident, which is not unusual. In most motor vehicle fatalities charges are not usually filed immediately following the accident unless there are unusual or extenuating circumstances. Rather, the District Attorney's Office and the State Police prefer to wait to file charges until they have had the opportunity to complete a reconstruction of the crash. Once the reconstruction is complete they make a determination about whether or not the driver was negligent and caused the accident, or if the accident was unavoidable for the surviving driver.
The reconstruction is usually done by a member of the State Police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section. (or C.A.R.S. Unit) The State Police intend for this to be a thorough analysis of the crash scene and any available witness information in an attempt to ascertain exactly what happened to cause the collision. The State Police will often obtain a warrant to download any on board computer information from the suspect vehicle in an attempt to figure out what happened during the accident.
The State Police and the assigned Assistant District Attorney then work together to determine if charges should be filed, and if so what charges are appropriate. If it is determined a driver was negligent in causing a fatal accident the most common charge for prosecutors to pursue is Motor Vehicle Homocide. Although Motor Vehicle Homocide is technically a misdemeanor it is still among the most serious charges a person can face in a Massachusetts District Court. The maximum penalty for Motor Vehicle Homocide is two years in the house of corrections, and any conviction requires the Registry of Motor Vehicles to suspend the defendant's license for 15 years.
Whether or not Mr. Nascimento will face criminal charges in this accident will depend on the results of the investigation now being conducted by the District Attorney's Office and Police.
If prosecutors conclude the conduct of the driver was worse than mere negligence they can pursue a significantly more serious charge of Involuntary Manslaughter. Involuntary Manslaughter is rarely charged in cases arising out of motor vehicle collisions, but it does happen. For a detailed discussion of the relationship between Involuntary Manslaughter and Motor Vehicle Homicide read Commonwealth v. Jones, a decision by the Supreme Judicial Court
If you or a loved one is being investigated or has been charged with any motor vehicle crime, including motor vehicle homicide please contact me immediately for a free consultation regarding your case. At a free consultation I will walk you step by step through the process you are facing, and help you understand what the potential defenses are in your case. As a Framingham criminal defense lawyer I have helped people charged with many different motor vehicle crimes fight their cases and obtain successful outcomes. Call me today at 508-762-4540 or contact me using the form on this website.