There is a gut reaction that many people in Minnesota have to fatal pedestrian accidents. When a pedestrian is hit, most people will say the driver is automatically at fault and should face serious criminal charges. In some cases, this is true and the driver will be charged with vehicular homicide. In many other cases, however, it is the pedestrian’s fault that he or she was hit. However regrettable a fatal pedestrian accident is, a driver cannot be held criminally liable for the pedestrian’s death if it is the pedestrian’s fault.
When a Rosemount man hit and killed a deaf woman in 2009, it was likely there was a similar outcry. Not only did the man hit a pedestrian at night, but he hit a woman that wouldn’t have been able to hear his car coming. While prosecutors first thought about charging the man with vehicular homicide, they realized they couldn’t when evidence emerged that the woman was crossing the street against the light.
This accident was, without a doubt, a tragedy. It is something that the man will never be able to forget, but that does not mean that he should be held criminally liable for a felony charge of criminal vehicular homicide. In the end, he was charged with and pled guilty to one count of leaving the scene of an accident involving death.
Criminal vehicular homicide charges are extremely serious, but only those individuals who truly meet the definition of the crime should be charged and prosecuted under that statute.
Source: KARE 11, “Rosemount man gets 60 days in fatal hit-and-run,” Jan. 8, 2013