What A Personal Injury Case Client May Want to Know About Criminal Charges
Sometimes in a personal injury case, the parties responsible for the injuries and losses may be charged with a crime.
Criminal charges faced by at-fault parties in personal injury cases include a variety of misdemeanor and felony charges ranging from DWI to drug possession to theft.
Misdemeanor in a personal injury case
In some cases, the at fault party will face a misdemeanor offense. If it is a car accident case, the at fault driver may have been charged a “Failure to Yield to Right of Way” after the crash. Charges like these are really important in determining fault in a crash.
- Class B Misdemeanors: These charges are considered more serious and therefore come with a heftier fine. Class B misdemeanors may be punishable by a fine up to $2,000, a 180 days of jail, or both. Some of the most common are first DWI and DUI offenses. However, evading arrest on foot, harassment, or a terroristic threat.
- Class A Misdemeanors: These offenses are considered the most serious. In Texas they may be punishable by a fine of up to $4,000, up to a year in jail, or both. Some of the most common Class A misdemeanors occur with DWI second offenders.
How Personal injuries Can Be Prevented By Law Enforcement
In 2016 KXAN reported that one item on Austin City Council’s Vision Zero Task Force initiatives could consider impounding vehicles driven by people without valid licenses. Under a proposed rule, drivers who are violating their probation may have their car impounded by the City of Austin.
Is it possible for a personal injury claim to turn into a criminal charge
If someone attempts to make a personal injury claim that is fraudulent, that person may be charged with a misdemeanor for false representation. Misrepresentation could include information about previous injuries or facts about an accident. It’s important for clients to be honest with their lawyers. It’s much better for your lawyer to find damaging or embarrassing information from you from the outset rather than from the other side of the case. That includes prior accidents, injuries and illnesses.
It might be embarrassing, but keep your lawyer informed if you file for bankruptcy or file for divorce. Keeping your lawyer informed of everything that’s going on will ensure your legal interests are protected.
Felony in a personal injury case
If a personal injury case goes to trial, the driver injured in the accident will usually need to testify about how the accident happened, what injuries occurred, and about the recovery process. If the injured person had a previous felony, it may come up during “cross examination.” The attorney appointed to the case by the insurance company may ask questions about the charge in order to challenge the credibility and truthfulness as a person.
In most states, including Texas, the opposing attorney cannot question you about a charge that you were not convicted for. And in most cases only a felony will be discussed in court.
A previous felony conviction doesn’t necessarily determine the outcome of a case. It’s possible that a felony could make the injured person less “likable” to the jury. A criminal past might mean a smaller settlement, but won’t necessarily break the case.
Drug charges in a personal injury case
Drug cases involve possession and delivery of controlled substances including:
- Methamphetamine (Meth)
- Pharmaceutical drugs
- Prescription drug cases
- And more
There are several factors that may affect a drug charge in Texas. Depending upon the state or county, the amount possessed by the drug offender may result in a different outcome.
In a recent Austin crash, a woman was injured when a man struck her car in an intersection. The man was found to have Methamphetamines and Marijuana in his vehicle. Witnesses traveling in the vehicle told officers that they were with the driver in order to purchase drugs. If the woman hires a personal injury attorney, the substances found in and around the vehicle could be a very important part of the case.
DWI in a personal injury case
A DWI is a common abbreviation for “driving while intoxicated.” In Texas, a DWI conviction can be made when a driver has a Blood Alcohol Content of .08 percent or more. It’s possible the officer determined intoxication by stating that the driver did not have “the normal use of mental and physical faculties.”
Not all DWI cases are treated the same. A first DWI conviction is a Class B Misdemeanor. However with each successive DWI conviction the driver faces more extreme legal consequences. Other convictions such as Intoxication Manslaughter or DWI with a child passenger have severe consequences that reflect the harm they can have on society.
Violation of Probation in a personal injury case
Someone involved in a personal injury crash may be on probation for a previous driving violation. What’s sometimes called “community supervision” in Texas takes two forms:
- straight probation
- deferred adjudication
A person is placed on straight probation after being found guilty of a crime.
During probation, the person convicted of a crime must meet certain conditions. This includes not violating any other laws. Other common conditions of probation in Texas require submitting to drug tests, abiding by a curfew, maintaining a job, or completing community service.
Violation of probation can have serious consequences. It may result in sanctions, a petition to revoke probation or adjudicate, or ultimately result in a jail or penitentiary sentence.
If a person involved in a car crash was on probation and was found to be driving while intoxicated the consequences will be much more severe.
Robbery or Burglary
What many don’t realize is that in the eyes of the law there is a difference between burglary, robbery and theft.
- Burglary: Charged with breaking and entering into a home (habitation) or building with the intent to steal something or to commit a felony such as murder.
- Robbery: Charged with intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing injury to an individual while in the act of theft.
- Aggravated robbery: Charged with a first degree felony involving the use of a deadly weapon or causing a serious injury (especially to a disabled or elder person) during the act of theft.
- Theft: Have you been charged with intentionally taking something that is not yours, such as money, checks, cars, or other items.
Conspiracy in a personal injury case
Examples of conspiracy:
- “I was at my friends’ home and the three of us discussed robbing a bank. We planned it together. Even though I did not rob any banks, they are charging me with conspiracy.”
- “My pharmacist friend was writing fake prescriptions that I used and gave to my sister who was in pain.”
- “My friend and I agreed to grown and sell marijuana. When he was harvesting the plants, the police caught him and he said that it was our plan.”
It is possible that a conspiracy charge could play a part in a personal injury case. If the defense in a personal injury case has a history of conspiracy, a personal injury attorney may cite the crimes to illustrate a history of negligence.