car accident

Is Purposely Causing a Car Accident a Crime?

An accident is something that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, usually resulting from a person's recklessness or carelessness. Thus, if you purposely crash into someone else's vehicle, you're technically not causing an "accident"; you're engaging in deliberate conduct that can result in property damage, injury, or even death. Such actions can lead to criminal charges.

Types of Charges that Can Arise from a Deliberate Auto Collision

Although Arizona does not have a law explicitly prohibiting purposely causing a car crash, it does have several statutes that concern the underlying actions of such conduct.

Possible charges you may face for deliberately causing a traffic collision include, but are not limited to:

  • Criminal damage: Suppose you intentionally ram into the back of someone else's car, or you suddenly brake to make them slam into the rear of your vehicle. By doing that, you could cause damage to the other person's property. Such conduct is prohibited by A.R.S. 13-1602, criminal damage. The level of charge you could face depends on the amount of damage you caused. For instance, it's a class 1 misdemeanor for causing damage in the amount between $250 and $1,000. It's a class 4 felony if you caused more than $10,000 worth of damage.
  • Reckless driving: Under A.R.S. 28-693, it's illegal for a person to drive their vehicle in a way that shows "reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property." Therefore, taking deliberate action that could result in a collision that may cause damage to another person or their vehicle would be considered an offense. Reckless driving is a class 2 misdemeanor. If convicted, not only could you face up to 4 months in jail, you could also be subject to a driver's license suspension of up to 90 days. If you're considered a repeat offender, you may be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor, which carries a jail term of up to 6 months, as well as a revocation of your driver's license.
  • Assault: In Arizona, a person commits assault when they "intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly caus[e] any physical injury to another person." (A.R.S. 13-1203) This means that if you purposely collide with another vehicle (or make another vehicle crash into your car) and someone else is harmed, you're likely going to face criminal charges. Assault is a class 1 misdemeanor and is punishable up to 6 months in jail.
  • Aggravated assault: A.R.S. 13-1204 provides that a person commits aggravated assault when they knowingly, recklessly, or intentionally cause serious injury to another. Thus, if your deliberate auto collision places someone at a risk of death or causes permanent disfigurement or impairment, you're committing a crime. If you're convicted of this class 3 felony offense, you could be sentenced to up to 8.75 years in prison.

If you're facing criminal charges in Tempe, contact Oliverson & Huss Law PLLC at (480) 351-2228 for aggressive defense.

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