How JustAnswer Works:

  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.

Ask P. Simmons Your Own Question

P. Simmons
P. Simmons, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 26136
Experience:  16 yrs. of trial experience
Type Your Legal Question Here...
P. Simmons is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

My 22 year old son ran a stop sign and sent 5 people to the

Customer Question

My 22 year old son ran a stop sign and sent 5 people to the hospital in a 2 car crash. The other car had 2, 90 year old occupants, one being the driver.
My son was texting. Some of the texting refers to marajuana being available to smoke. None was found on my son. Some pot was found on a passenger. He had 3 female passengers around the ages of 18 or 19 years old. No one has died. No one from our car was admitted to the hospital. We do not know about the other car's occupants.
My son was charged with running a stop sign and has a mid April court date.
We would like to wait and see if a lawyer will be needed. SHOULD WE HIRE A LAWYER RIGHT AWAY? My son says there shouldn't be any THC in his blood.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  P. Simmons replied 1 year ago.
Thanks for the chance to help. I am an attorney with over 12 years experience. Hopefully I can help you with your legal question.

Can you tell me, was your insurance up to date? And what is your liability cap on the policy?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

yes, insurance is up to date (Allstate). Cap on liability is 100,000.

Expert:  P. Simmons replied 1 year ago.
Thanks

I ask since that would be my larger concern...potential liability claims.

What you describe, if there is no evidence that he was under the influence of Cannabis at the time he was operating the vehicle, I think his criminal liability is reduced significantly.

You need to wait and see...but if the test comes back negative for THC or other illegal substances, then the best the state can do, if they attempt to prosecute, would be reckless driving associated with the texting.

Tell me this...you mention texting at the time of the accident...is that part of the evidence in the case? That is, have any of the witnesses stated he was texting at the time? OR did he admit to that?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

No He sustained a closed head injury and does not remember the accident. the officer was showing me his phone alot and talking about the times my son was texting. he did not keep the phone.


also, should we plead guilty and pay the fine or get a lawyer first>

Expert:  P. Simmons replied 1 year ago.
Thanks

If all they have is the phone and the texts...if there are no witness statements to show texting and no blood tests to show drugs? Then the state has an uphill battle to prove a criminal case.

Not saying it is not possible...just that the case is more complex.

To criminal reckless driving (or, if someone dies, negligent homicide) the state must prove all elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

I see this as three separate issues

1. The traffic ticket (stop sign)

2. Potential criminal case (reckless driving...perhaps negligent homicide)

3. Potential civil suit

They are all tied together.

Example, if he pleas to the traffic ticket, that can be used in both the criminal and civil cases.

Now...it would have more impact in the civil case...since that plea would allow a "negligence per se" claim...basically if he admits to running the stop sign, he will likely loose the civil case. In the criminal case, they still have to prove "recklessness"...they have to prove he was texting or under the influence of drugs at the time of the accident. So admission to the traffic ticket will be more significant in the civil case.

If you have insurance they will protect you up to the policy limit...but if there is a claim for more than that, someone could be on the hook for that extra amount....and your insurance company is not concerned about your potential losses...only their own.

SO to answer the question, do you need a lawyer?

You may...you certainly need one if he is charged criminally.

And you may need one if he is sued (if the potential damages exceed $100K)

One thing he can do to buy some time is ask for a delay. He can enter a plea of not guilty and ask for a delay...this will buy you some time to see what evidence surfaces (like the blood work, or perhaps witnesses statements)

It is not difficult to get a month or 2 delay to the traffic ticket if you tell the judge you are looking to retain a lawyer.

If pressed on this, one option would be to enter a plea of "no contest"...this allows him to resolve the traffic ticket without admitting responsibility.

He certainly does not want to make any statements to the court that can be used in the criminal case or the civil case...so best to try and delay this for some time to see what will happen on both fronts.

But at the end of the day, if he is forced to address this, a no contest plea would resolve the traffic ticket while minimizing liability to the other cases.




P. Simmons, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 26136
Experience: 16 yrs. of trial experience
P. Simmons and 18 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

FYI-NYS does not have "no contest". You have to plead guilty or not guilty.

Expert:  P. Simmons replied 1 year ago.
Ma'am you are correct. NY is one if the very few states that will not allow this.

In such a case, it may be best to plea not guilty and take no action (that is, enter a plea of not guilty but do not present a specific defense). A plea of not guilty does NOT require that the accused present any evidence. If the state can convict, the result of such a strategy would be the functional equivalent of a nolo contendere. There will be a conviction, but your son will have taken no action that could potentially harm his civil or criminal case. And conviction for running a stop sign is, as you understand, the least of his worries now.

Sorry for the confusion


Let me know if you have more questions

JustAnswer in the News:

 
 
 
Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.
 
 
 

What Customers are Saying:

 
 
 
  • Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises! Gary B. Edmond, OK
< Last | Next >
  • Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises! Gary B. Edmond, OK
  • My Expert was fast and seemed to have the answer to my taser question at the tips of her fingers. Communication was excellent. I left feeling confident in her answer. Eric Redwood City, CA
  • I am very pleased with JustAnswer as a place to go for divorce or criminal law knowledge and insight. Michael Wichita, KS
  • PaulMJD helped me with questions I had regarding an urgent legal matter. His answers were excellent. Three H. Houston, TX
  • Anne was extremely helpful. Her information put me in the right direction for action that kept me legal, possible saving me a ton of money in the future. Thank you again, Anne!! Elaine Atlanta, GA
  • It worked great. I had the facts and I presented them to my ex-landlord and she folded and returned my deposit. The 50 bucks I spent with you solved my problem. Tony Apopka, FL
  • Not only did he answer my Michigan divorce question but was also able to help me out with it, too. I have since won my legal case on this matter and thank you so much for it. Lee Michigan
 
 
 

Meet The Experts:

 
 
 
  • Tina

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    8436
    JD, BBA Over 25 years legal and business experience.
< Last | Next >
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/MU/multistatelaw/2011-11-27_173951_Tinaglamourshotworkglow102011.64x64.jpg Tina's Avatar

    Tina

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    8436
    JD, BBA Over 25 years legal and business experience.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/RA/ratioscripta/2012-6-13_2955_foto3.64x64.jpg Ely's Avatar

    Ely

    Counselor at Law

    Satisfied Customers:

    19941
    Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/FL/FLAandNYLawyer/2012-1-27_14349_3Fotolia25855429M.64x64.jpg FiveStarLaw's Avatar

    FiveStarLaw

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    8189
    25 years of experience helping people like you.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/jespoag/2008-12-17_222355_jessepic.jpg JPEsq's Avatar

    JPEsq

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    2132
    Experience as general attorney, in house counsel, SSDI, Family Law attorney, and law professor
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/gsenmartin/2008-04-22_214950_me1.jpg Guillermo J. Senmartin, Esq.'s Avatar

    Guillermo J. Senmartin, Esq.

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    110
    7+ years of experience handling various legal matters.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/PA/PaulmoJD/2013-10-10_195858_JAImage.64x64.jpg Law Educator, Esq.'s Avatar

    Law Educator, Esq.

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    31621
    JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/dkaplun/2009-05-17_173121_headshot_1_2.jpg Dimitry K., Esq.'s Avatar

    Dimitry K., Esq.

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    15975
    Multiple jurisdictions, specialize in business/contract disputes, estate creation and administration.