This morning in Taunton District Court, Massachusetts and Rhode Island criminal defense attorney Joseph Lamy secured the dismissal of misdemeanor charges for operating to endanger. In Massachusetts, negligent operation of a motor vehicle or driving to endanger, Massachusetts General Law Chapter 90, Section 24(1)(h)(2)(a), carries very serious penalties. My client was facing not only the suspension of his license but jail time ranging from a couple of weeks to two years! It may be surprising to know that a traffic violation can result in a criminal record with such serious penalties, but it is true in Massachusetts if you are charged with driving to endanger.
The language of the statute is somewhat ambiguous but you may be charged with this criminal vehicle violation if the police believe your driving was extremely reckless or so dangerous that you put the lives of others at risk. Some examples of this behavior include: racing vehicles, speeds in excess of 20mph over the limit, frequent and rapid lane changes, utter disregard for the safety of others, etc. Some police officers, as in this case with my client, are too quick to turn minor traffic violations into criminal offenses and for this reason, these charges should always be fought aggressively in Court by an attorney.
My client had not committed any of the violations that would make him subject to this charge and we were able to prove this to the district attorney resulting in a dismissal of all charges (including the speeding ticket!). This case arose out of an auto accident. My client was operating with the right of way when another driver took a left turn in front of my client, failing to yield the right of way. The impact was significant and substantial damage was caused to both vehicles. Based on the physical damages alone, and on some other questionable evidence, the officer charged my client with driving to endanger. The officer did not witness the accident. No accident reconstruction was completed and no engineer was brought to the scene to examine the vehicles. Despite the absence of any tangible evidence, the officer charged my client criminally with driving in excess of 20mph over the speed limit.
I was able to successfully convince the Taunton District Attorney that they could never reach their required standard of proof, namely, that my client was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We showed that the case was built on questionable evidence and located and interviewed independent witnesses who confirmed that my client was driving approximately 40-45 mph (the speed limit was 40). Finally, this morning we gained the judge’s approval to dismiss all charges.
My office also represents this client for personal injuries sustained in this car accident. Not only did we successfully dismiss all of the criminal charges that my client is facing but we have convinced the other woman’s insurance company to accept responsibility and pay for all of my client’s damages.