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lwpat, Criminal Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 25386
Experience:  Practicing criminal defense attorney
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An areal firework was lit in the middle of a gravel road, next

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An areal firework was lit in the middle of a gravel road, next to a river. Precautions were taken, but the firework malfunctioned and started a large wild grass fire. In some counties, if it was an accident, it has been treated as such, however, this was the wrong county to have this happen in. The sheriff requested the PA to press for multiple misdemeanor charges and multiple felony charges corresponding to the number of property owners affected. The amount of restitution has yet to be provided. The fire was called in by the person who lit the firework, who also offered to pay, to the best of their ability, the cost of damages. So far, the judge has not ruled in favor of any of the criminal defense attorney's requests (ie. reducing charges to one, etc.) The only plea bargain offered to date is for this person to agree to all misdemeanor charges, with no set restitution amount. This is unacceptable. It looks like this case will be going to trial with a jury. This is my son. He has a spotless record (25 years old) and is an officer in the Marine Corps. His training has been put on hold indefinitely due to the possibility of felony charges. He is truly sorry for the damages he caused, but it was an accident, and no human was injured and the damage to fences and one house have already been repaired. I am baffled that it has gotten to this point...and what was very unfortunate but temporary destruction may result in permanent destruction to his life. I would appreciate any suggestions.....This does not seem like justice. Thank you
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

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I am very sorry to hear of his situation, he seems like a fine person and good son. A criminal act normally requires a "mens rea".

As an element of criminal responsibility, a guilty mind; a guilty or wrongful purpose; a criminal intent. Guilty knowledge and wilfulness.

A fundamental principle of Criminal Law is that a crime consists of both a mental and a physical element. Mens rea, a person's awareness of the fact that his or her conduct is criminal, is the mental element, and actus reus, the act itself, is the physical element.

Today most crimes, including common-law crimes, are defined by statutes that usually contain a word or phrase indicating the mens rea requirement. A typical statute, for example, may require that a person act knowingly, purposely, or recklessly.

It appears that the DA is saying that he acted recklessly in setting off the fireworks. However, you indicate that it was actually a malfunction of the fireworks. If that is the case, then he should file suit against the place where he bought the item. The seller may have some liability for the restitution.

Accidents are just that, accidents and not crimes. It appears that he has an attorney and the attorney is his best resource since he is familiar with the local laws and the statutes under which he has been charged. The fact that there have been similar incidents with no criminal charges should be evidence that could be introduced to the jury. Our justice system is supposed to treat everyone equally.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I really appreciate you getting right back to us. I didn't think that you would be working weekends!! Sorry my response was so late. Your response was very helpful and confirmed the counsel that we are getting, which gives me a little more confidence. The county where this happened is rural, and known to be "tough". If this trial goes south and he is convicted of a felony, what recourse do we have? We just can't let this happen. If he had committed a criminal act, we would have to accept that...but he is not a criminal and has cooperated and accepted full responsibility from the beginning. But this was an accident. Our state had a lot of fires this past year. About 1/3 were human caused, but no one came forward and took responsibility. Our son did what he thought was the right thing...took responsibility, and they are going to make this a big case. We really are floored that this has gotten this far..and needless to say, we have mixed feelings about whether the justice system is going to be just. Do we have options if this goes bad?

You always have options to appeal a guilty verdict. The problem is that few appeals win. The problem with out justice system is that the penalties are so severe that many people simply plea bargain even when they are not guilty or when they have reasonable chance of a not guilty verdict. The fact that he came forward and took responsibility should work in his favor if he decides to go to trial. In cases like this he is going to have to rely on the advice of local counsel since that attorney knows the particular facts, circumstances and the statutes.

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lwpat, Criminal Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 25386
Experience: Practicing criminal defense attorney
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