Accident

ACCIDENT

This post will answer the following legal questions on the legal defense of accident:

  • Legally speaking, what is an accident?
  • Who has the burden of proving a happening was NOT an accident?
  • What is the difference between unintended conduct and unintended consequences?
  • What kinds of evidence can be introduced in the case of an abusive relationship?

Legally speaking, what is an accident?

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts defines an accident as an unexpected happening that occurs without intention or design on the defendant’s part. It means a sudden, unexpected event that takes place without the defendant intending it.

If a criminal offense is not a pure and simple accident, it’s legally considered to be intentionally committed.

Who has the burden of proving a happening was NOT an accident?

The Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that what occurred was not an accident. If the Commonwealth has failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that what occurred was not an accident, then the defendant must be found NOT GUILTY.

What is the difference between unintended conduct and unintended consequences?

An accident considered as unintended conduct focuses on the nature of the conduct that produced the result and not simply on the result alone.

An accident considered as an unintended consequence means it is the unintended consequence of a defendant’s act. It is a defense only if the Commonwealth is required to prove that the defendant intended the consequences of his or her act.

What kinds of evidence can be introduced in the case of an abusive relationship?

Where there is a claim of accidental injury to another, a defendant can introduce either or both (ONE OR BOTH):

  1. Evidence that the defendant is or has been the victim of acts of physical, sexual or psychological harm or abuse.

2. Evidence by expert testimony regarding (ONE OR MORE):

  • The common patterns in abusive relationships
  • The nature and effects of physical, sexual or psychological abuse and typical responses—including how those effects relate to the perception of the imminent nature of the threat of death or serious bodily harm
  • The relevant facts and circumstances which form the basis for such opinion
  • Evidence whether the defendant displayed characteristics common to victims of abuse

To establish any of the following (ONE OR MORE):

  • The reasonableness of the defendant’s apprehension that death or serious bodily injury was imminent
  • The reasonableness of the defendant’s belief that he or she availed him or herself of all available means to avoid physical combat
  • The reasonableness of a defendant’s perception of the amount of force necessary to deal with a perceived threat

IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH A CRIME, AND YOU NEED AN EXPERIENCED CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER WORKING ON YOUR SIDE TO PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS, PLEASE CONTACT CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY WILLIAM J. BARABINO.

CALL 781-393-5900 TO LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR AVAILABLE DEFENSES.

Source: Instruction 9.100

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