My 24 year old client was charged with Manslaughter when it was alleged that he was weaving/speeding in traffic and rear ended a car in Anne Arundel County. The case was pending for nearly one year. The witness statements and the physical evidence did not support these callous and baseless accusations.
Thanks in part to shoddy police investigation combined with selective investigative techniques, ie. taking statements from those witnesses that support the police theory and steering clear of witnesses that did not support the police theory, the Jury remained unmoved by the Government’s pleas for justice for the deceased victim.
The Government put on it’s one day case and the defense put on its witness for approximately 10 minutes and rested the case. The defendant did not even need to testify. 3 hours later (including lunch breach) the jury came back with a NOT GUILTY verdict on Manslaughter and Reckless driving, the most serious charges. The jury found the defendant guilty of minor traffic offenses like speeding and negligent driving; he received a $500 fine.
The laws in this state support a manslaughter finding where a victim dies and the defendant is found to have operated his car in a grossly negligent or wanton and reckless manor. While this sounds reasonable, the Government is contorting this standard to achieve convictions and cases where they should not be.
Recently, there was another case in the paper of a young woman with a learner’s permit in Anne Arundel County. She negligently turned left in front of an oncoming taxi. The taxi driver was killed in the accident. It was a mistake which anybody in a momentary lapse could make. The Government did not see it that way and prosecuted the young girl for manslaughter. Sadly she was convicted of this very serious charge for what appears to be simple negligence (we did not represent her).
This conviction is not a good thing; it is a disaster. While somebody died in the accident, it remains an accident. Giving the Government the authority to prosecute very serious felony charges in this fashion and juries supporting that decision, is a scary concept.
Any one of us good and responsible licensed drivers could have a momentary lapse of judgment while driving a vehicle (that is what insurance is for) and the only thing that stands between us and a felony charge/conviction is what happens to the victim??? Not good folks, not good at all.