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A criminal defense may emerge in arrest for alleged hit and run

The New Hampshire State Police have accused a 65-year-old man of causing an accident that resulted in injuries to the two occupants of the other vehicle. The police say that he left the accident scene and was arrested later on charges of reckless conduct and conduct after an accident. Based on the available facts, however, the existence of civil negligence does not preclude a potential criminal defense to the charges.

However, defense counsel must consult with the client about the benefits of plea bargaining before making the significant decision of going to trial. Only where the evidence appears to be truly weak should the risk of trial be undertaken. In this case, it is possible for either strategy to emerge, depending on further investigation and evaluation of all of the pertinent factors.

The defendant must also consider the probability of getting a much stiffer sentence if convicted after a jury trial. In this case, that risk must also be compared against the possibility that there is no evidence of criminality, making a guilty plea the wrong thing to do. The police say that the defendant traveled closely behind the victim's vehicle on I-89 in Grantham.

The accused reportedly passed the vehicle and then pulled back in front of it after passing it. However, the operator of the other car lost control and careened into a guard rail. Police say that a video depicts the incident; however, available facts currently seem to indicate only that defendant passed a car by following the proper procedure and getting back into the driving lane after negotiating the pass.

One may read between the lines to surmise that the police may believe that the man pulled back into the driving lane too abruptly and too close to the passed vehicle. However, even if that were true, the defendant's continuing to drive forward normally on the highway may be consistent with a criminal defense under New Hampshire law. The accident took place totally behind him while he was driving forward, which could negative the existence of criminal intent or purposefulness.

Source: Concord, NH Patch, "Elderly Man Arrested in I-89 Road Rage Case", Tony Schinella, Aug. 11, 2016

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