I was in a very bad car accident! Now I'm being charged with Criminal Vehicular Operation! What can I do?
Criminal Vehicular Operation is typically a felony offense in Minnesota (only simple bodily harm is a Gross Misdemeanor). The penalties, future consequences, and proofs needed to convict depend upon the severity of the injury, the person injured, and what caused the accident. There are three basic CVO statutes:
-Criminal Vehicular Homicide, Minn. Stat. 609.2112 (someone dies)
-Criminal Vehicular Operation, Bodily Harm, Minn. Stat. 609.2113 (someone is hurt: great bodily harm, substantial bodily harm, or simple bodily harm)
-Criminal Vehicular Operation, Unborn Child, Minn. Stat. 609.2114 (an unborn child dies or is injured)
The Kinds of "Wrongdoing" That the State Has to Prove Are Varied, and Words/Definitions Matter
What all of the CVO statutes have in common is that there is a common list of "wrongful" ways to drive that can lead to a conviction. They are the following:
1) You drove in a "grossly negligent manner;"
2) You negligently drove while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance;
3) You negligently drove while having an alcohol concentration of .08 or more, either at the time of driving or as measured within 2 hours (for more information regarding the similar charge of DWI, please see DWI Defense);
4) You negligently drove while under the influence of an intoxicating substance (think "huffing") and you knew or had reason to know that it would cause impairment (ie. you should have known that huffing would put you under the influence);
5) You negligently drove while having ANY amount of a Schedule I or II drug (or its metabolite) in your system (EXCEPT marijuana or THC);
6) You caused the accident and you left the scene in violation of the "Hit-and-Run" statute;
7) The police told you that your vehicle was defectively maintained, you knew it wasn't fixed, you knew that the defect created a danger (ie. you knew your brakes could give out at any moment), and the defect caused the injury.