Articles Posted in Motor Vehicle Crimes

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car-crash-1432754-mAccording to an article in the MetroWest Daily News, a Milford teenager is now facing charges of vehicular homicide. Specifically, the article states that a sixteen-year-old teenage girl crashed her car into a thirteen-year-old Hopkinton boy in September of 2013. The boy died shortly after the collision.

There are two potential ways in which the Commonwealth can charge an individual for motor vehicular homicide: under G. L. c. 90, § 24G(a), which is a felony, or under G. L. c. 90, § 24G(b), which is a misdemeanor. Under the felony charge, the Commonwealth would have to prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt: (1) that the teen operated a motor vehicle; (2) on a way or in a place that the public had access, or in a place where members of the public have access as invitees or licensees; (3) that while the teen was operating the vehicle, she had a percentage, by weight, of alcohol in her blood of .08% or greater, or was under the influence of intoxicating liquor, or was under the influence of drugs; (4) that the teen operated the vehicle in a manner which is considered “reckless” under the laws of Massachusetts, or that the teen operated the vehicle in a negligent manner so that the lives and safety of the public might have been endangered; and (5) that the teen’s actions cause the death of another person. Under the misdemeanor charge, the elements are essentially the same, however rather than requiring proof of both the third and fourth elements, the Commonwealth must prove just one or the other. In other words, the Commonwealth must prove either that the teen had a percentage, by weight, of alcohol in her blood of .08% or greater, or was under the influence of intoxicating liquor, or was under the influence of drugs or that she operated the vehicle in a manner which is considered reckless under the laws of Massachusetts, or operated the vehicle in a negligent manner so that the lives and safety of the public might have been endangered. Although the article doesn’t specify whether the teen is charged with the misdemeanor rather than the felony, it appears that it is safe to assume that this is case because there is no indication whatsoever that the teen was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the incident. Continue reading →

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mountain-drive-1442174-mAccording to an article the in MetroWest Daily News, a Framingham police officer stopped a Volkswagen sedan with four teenage occupants – all juveniles – last week.  While it’s not clear why the officer originally stopped the car, after the driver and passengers were allowed to leave, an automatic license plate reader alerted the officer that the Volkswagen had been reported “missing” from Brockton.  A second officer saw the car several hours later, however, and stopped it again.  All four of the occupants were charged with receiving a stolen motor vehicle.  The driver was also charged with driving without a license.

To prove that the teens are guilty of receiving a stolen motor vehicle under G. L. c. 266, § 28, the Commonwealth would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that: (1) the motor vehicle was stolen; (2) that the defendant(s) knew that the vehicle had been stolen; and (3) that the defendant(s) knowingly had the stolen vehicle in their possession.  As to the first element, although the Commonwealth does not have to prove who stole the vehicle, it must establish that someone had taken it without the right to do so/consent of the owner, while intending to deprive the owner of the vehicle permanently.  As to the second element, the Commonwealth must prove that the defendant(s) knew or believed that the vehicle was stolen – even if a reasonable person would have known or believed that the vehicle was stolen, a defendant may not be found guilty unless the Commonwealth proves that he or she actually knew, or at least believed, that the vehicle was stolen.

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1170123_bus_on_the_run.jpgA recent article in the MetroWest Daily news tells the story of a Shrewsbury man who is facing serious charges, including motor vehicle homicide by negligent driving.  The charges were issued in connection with the death of a pedestrian the defendant is accused of hitting. The defendant is a former bus driver for the Worcester Regional Transit Authority and was working when he allegedly struck a 62-year-old woman with his bus. The alleged victim reportedly died on September 28, 2012. The defendant, who is 70 years old, reportedly retired after the accident. A complaint containing the charges was reportedly issued on Thursday, December 13th. The defendant is scheduled to be arraigned next month. It will be decided whether the defendant will be held on bail, and how much, at the arraignment.

The alleged victim was reportedly six to ten feet into the road when she was struck by the defendant’s bus. She also was reportedly not in a crosswalk. Police allege that the defendant never came to a complete stop before making a turn. Visibility was reportedly poor because of rain, as well as glare from other vehicles.

The charges the defendant is facing are serious. A conviction for motor vehicle homicide could result in incarceration.

The defendant could be facing a misdemeanor or felony offense of motor vehicle homicide. What the prosecution will have to prove depends on whether he has been charged with the misdemeanor or felony offense. Either way, the prosecutors will have to prove that the defendant operated a motor vehicle on a public way or where members of the public have a right of access or are invitees and that his actions caused the death of another person.

However, if the defendant is charged with the misdemeanor version of this offense, the prosecutors will only have to prove that he operated the vehicle recklessly or that he operated the vehicle negligently so as to endanger the lives and safety of the public. If convicted of the misdemeanor section of the statute you can be sentenced for up to 2 ½ years in jail.

If the defendant is facing the felony version of this offense, the prosecutors will have to prove that he operated the vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs and that he operated the vehicle recklessly or negligently. The defendant could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison if convicted under this section. There is a minimum mandatory one-year jail sentence if he is convicted.

The article does not mention whether the defendant is alleged to have been under the influence of any drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident. Therefore, he is likely facing the misdemeanor charge of motor vehicle homicide. The article also makes it sound as though the prosecutors will argue that the defendant was driving in a negligent manner at the time of the accident.

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774604_car_accident_1.jpg The MetroWest Daily News recently published an article about an Upton woman who was arrested on Thursday November 29th for operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, driving to endanger, as well as driving with a license that was suspended for being a habitual traffic offender. The woman’s charge is a subsequent offense, meaning she has been convicted of the same offense in the past. Specifically, prosecutors allege that the woman was convicted of drunk driving twice in 2010.

Police reportedly arrived on the scene of the single-car accident after the woman’s pickup truck rolled over on Main Street in Hopkinton at 7:54 p.m. Officers reportedly found the woman trapped and standing in the cab of the truck. Police allege that they smelled alcohol coming from the woman and that the woman admitting to having consumed vodka earlier in the day when officers asked her if she had been drinking. Police further allege that the woman failed numerous field sobriety tests but refused to take a Breathalyzer test. The woman was reportedly not injured in the crash but was taken to the hospital as a precaution.

The woman was arraigned on Friday in the Framingham District Court. Prosecutors reportedly did not ask for her to be held. She was released without bail and is due back in Court on January 23rd for a pretrial conference.
Because the woman refused to take a Breathalyzer test, prosecutors will not be able to easily prove that she was over the legal limit while she was driving. Without a breath test prosecutors would need some other evidence like a blood test to actually prove the woman’s blood alcohol content on the night in question. It is much more likely prosecutors will go forward on a straight OUI charge without alleging there was a per se violation of her blood alcohol content limit. To prevail on an OUI charge prosecutors will have to prove that she was operating under the influence of an intoxicating liquor. Prosecutors will use all of the evidence mentioned by the police in their report to try to obtain a conviction in this case.

To prove the driving to endanger charge, prosecutors will have to establish that the woman was operating a motor vehicle on a public road so as to endanger any person, including her. This charge is a misdemeanor that does carry the possibility of jail time.

The woman is facing serious charges that may lead to fines and imprisonment. Additionally, she may have her license suspension time increased for refusing the breathalyzer because of prior convictions for OUI. Because the woman has been convicted of an OUI charge in the past, she is facing harsh consequences.

The woman’s defenses are seemingly limited in this case. Since the police came to the scene of her accident, as opposed to pulling her car over, she cannot argue that they did not have reasonable grounds to stop her car. She may be able to argue that she did not refuse the Breathalyzer. However, this defense could be difficult to prove.

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565690_car_stealing.jpegTwo individuals –  a woman from Framingham and a man from Springfield, were arrested at 2:26 a.m. on Tuesday November 27 for allegedly breaking into at least seven vehicles, according to an article in the MetroWest Daily News.

Police reportedly responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle on Porter Road around 2:26 a.m. When they arrived, they found the man allegedly leaning into an open vehicle.

Both the man and the woman, who was also present, reportedly had several GPS devices, cell phones, watches, and other items in their possession. Police reportedly determined the couple broke into at least seven different cars to acquire the items.

Both individuals were charged with seven counts of breaking and entering into a vehicle, and six counts of receiving stolen property worth less than $250. Police allege that the man had several GPS units in his possession, as well as $80 in change, several cell phones and watches. Police also allege that they found the woman standing nearby next to a backpack that contained two more GPS units and a cell phone. Police also reportedly suspect the couple of breaking into more cars because they allegedly had several items in their possession that were not identified by the known victims.

The woman was released with no bail, but the man was reportedly held on $1000 bail. The man reportedly has a long record with several crimes similar to the charges he is now facing. He also reportedly made some admissions to police at the time of the arrest. Both individuals are due back in court on Dec. 10 for a pretrial conference
To prevail on the charges of breaking and entering into a vehicle, prosecutors will have to prove that both the man and the woman used force to enter a vehicle that belonged to another person for each of the separate charges. The charge can lead to imprisonment if they are convicted. Breaking and entering can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on how the defendants are charged. Additionally, committing the offense at night can lead to a longer sentence if the defendants are convicted. To prevail on the charges of receiving stolen property worth less than $250, prosecutors will have to prove that both the man and the woman knew that the property was stolen for each of the separate counts. Because they have been charged with receiving stolen property worth less than $250, they have likely been charged with a misdemeanor regarding this alleged crime. However, if the man has been convicted of this offense previously, he may be facing a felony charge for this alleged offense.

The couple may be able to get some of the charges dropped, or the prosecution may not be able to meet its burden for every charge that they have lodged against them. According to the article, the man and the woman were allegedly found with the items in their possession while the man was leaning into an open vehicle. Therefore, prosecutors may have a hard time meeting their burden for all of the breaking and entering charges.

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774605_car_accident_2.jpgToday I read a sad article in the Metrowest Daily News by Norm Miller. The story focuses on the tragic death of a man who was killed in a car accident this past weekend in front of his residence. According to a previous article the man 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 the man and he passed away over the weekend. The driver of the Mercedes has been identified as a resident of Marlborough. The driver 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 the driver 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

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