Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Not All Bad Deeds Must Be Punished

The headline today proclaimed: "Driver who hit bicyclist likely won't be cited."  The underlying message of the headline was that something horrible happened, and the person who made it happen may go unpunished.  A 50 year old man is in the hospital, and he's not doing well, the article states.

The focus of the article and its title brings attention to a fact of life that is hard for some to accept, that not all bad deeds get punished.  This s a good thing.  There doesn't always have to be punishment from the government for bad things that happen.

In the accident in the article it was night, the bicyclist was wearing dark clothing, and according to the police, the driver who struck the bicyclist tried to avoid hitting him, but by the time she saw him it was too late.  Indeed, it appears that the bicyclist was partially to blame as he tried to cross the street and beat the on coming traffic, but did not make it.  Regardless of whether charges are brought, the driver is likely going to bear personal guilt and self punishment, even if it is not deserved.

The fact that someone was hurt is a tragedy.  I would be an even greater tragedy if public outcry or overly aggressive police officers and prosecutors decided to cite, charge, or prosecute someone for an accident where there was no criminal intent or criminal liability.  Accidents happen, sometimes someone is in the wrong place at the wrong time, but when the dust settles, it is evident that they are not a criminal.  I have had clients who were charged with crimes in these types of circumstances.  When that happens, it is important to have an attorney advocating for the dismissal of charges, to ensure justice is served, and to avoid adding another victim to what was an accident.

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