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New York train accident may result in vehicular homicide charge

Suffolk County, New York, residents probably heard about the terrible train accident that resulted in four deaths and the injuries of over 60 more people. The train derailed on Dec. 1 in the Bronx, and now, the engineer could be facing serious penalties related to the accident. According to the news, the Metro-North Railroad train driver may be charged if it is proven that he was negligent in the accident.

The Dec. 7 report states that the 10-year train operator said that he actually dozed off while driving the train, while the train hit 82 mph in a zone allowing for only 30 mph. The train quickly jumped the track at a bend around 7:20 a.m. Now, prosecutors are trying to decide if dozing off is enough for a vehicular homicide charge instead of a negligence charge, but it isn't as clear cut as you might think.

According to New York penal law, culpability can be proven by four mental states. These are: intentionally, knowingly, recklessly and criminal negligence. The amount of sleep the man had the night before the crash could actually determine which one of those terms describes him; it will likely determine whether he is criminally responsible for the train going off the rails.

In New York, homicide charges range from criminally negligent to manslaughter to murder. National Transportation Safety Board investigators have reported that the man has been tested for drug use, and all crewmembers were tested for alcohol use. All results came back negative, according to the reports.

In this case, a simple factor will determine if the man driving the train will be charged with negligence or a criminal offense. If your case is seemingly balancing between two different charges, you may find help from an experienced criminal defense attorney. With the right legal advice, you will have a better chance at defending yourself against whatever charges you may face.


Source: 
Poughkeepsie Journal, "Experts: Recklessness, negligence key for train case" Roberto Cruz, Dec. 07, 2013

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