Misfortune or Accident Defense in Georgia
Accidents happen, and even the criminal justice system acknowledges that. Crimes that were committed out of misfortune or by accident may allow the person charged with the crime to be acquitted. However, this requires the assistance of an experienced attorney presenting the right evidence. If you believe that you are being charged with a crime that was accidental, contact our offices today. Lawson and Berry have over 50 combined years of experience in criminal law and understand that accidents happen.
Georgia Law O.C.G.A. §16-2-2 reads as follows:
A person shall not be found guilty of any crime committed by misfortune or accident where it satisfactorily appears that there was no criminal scheme or undertaking, intention, or criminal negligence.
Georgia Case Law
However, Georgia rarely accepts this defense and finds that most of the time, crimes are not committed by accident and misfortune. Some examples of cases where accident and misfortune were not sufficient arguments:
- Defendant was charged with trafficking methamphetamine but argued that he delivered meth by accident. He stated that he usually only delivered marijuana and therefore this was an accidental delivery. However, the Court did not uphold his argument because even though he may not have known it was meth that he was trafficking, he was still committing a criminal act. Dimas v. State, 276 Ga. App. 245, (2005).
- The suspect claimed that he shot the victim in self-defense and that therefore, it was accidental. However, the Court held that the defenses of self-defense and accident are inconsistent and that a suspect cannot use both to support their actions. In this case, the defendant had the opportunity to leave the scene, and there was other evidence proving that the shooting was not an accident. Sumner v. State, 210 Ga. App. 856, (1993).
- A man pulled back the trigger of a gun and pointed the gun at a victim to scare them. He did not intend for the gun to go off but it did. The accused argued that the accident defense should apply because he did not mean to shoot the victim. However, the Court found that the evidence demonstrated criminal negligence and that his actions did not support the accident defense. Browner v. State, 296 Ga. 138, (2014).
In sum, there are some takeaways from case law that can help us to understand the defense of accident or misfortune. First, self-defense and accident are inconsistent defenses, and the evidence cannot support both. Second, is that criminal negligence does not mean the incident was an accident. Third, if you could have left the scene or had a chance to remove yourself from a situation and chose not to, then the defense of accident will not apply.
If you believe that you were charged with a crime that was committed accidentally or due to misfortune, contact our offices today. We are familiar with the nuances of this defense and how to best defend you. We are here 24/7 so contact us immediately to get started on the best defense!