Road rage has long been an issue in Southern California, but when Darla Jackson was charged with murder after running down a motorcyclist back in May, the crime quickly became one of the most talked about news stories in the region. Here’s what these charges mean for the defendant and others accused of road rage charges in San Diego.
First, it’s important to note that there is no actual “road rage” crime in California. Instead, the drivers involved in these cases will face a number of criminal charges based on their individual actions and circumstances. If you were involved with a road rage incident and have not yet been informed of the full scope of charges, a defense attorney can help explain which charges are likely in your specific situation. Generally, charges will include reckless driving, but based on the severity of the crime, defendants may also be accused of assault with a deadly weapon, vehicular homicide, or, in the case of Ms. Jackson, attempted murder. It’s worth noting that a conviction for using a vehicle as a deadly weapon results in a lifelong revocation of your driver’s license.
Defense strategies for road rage vary based on the individual circumstances involved in the case. Sometimes the witnesses are all friends and family members of the alleged victim and the case comes down to the old “he said/she said” argument, making it easy for the defendant’s lawyer to argue that there is insufficient proof that the defendant was to blame. A common defense tactic relies on proving self defense. The same way you can protect yourself from attacks while on foot, you are entitled to self defense on the roadway. If another motorist is trying to run you off the road, you can use defensive measures to protect yourself from imminent harm.
In other cases, the defense may show that the defendant has an issue with anger management and has entered an anger management treatment program since the incident in order to treat his or her problem.
The case of Ms. Jackson will be interesting, because while she and her friends and family members argue that the motorcyclist was driving recklessly and even kicked her car, other witnesses claim she intentionally went after the cyclist after he kicked her car when she almost hit him the first time. Additionally, Jackson has a history of anger management issues, even threatening two ex-boyfriends until they placed restraining orders against her. Given Jackson’s past and the severity of the accident, it seems unlikely that simply enrolling the defendant in an anger management course will sway the jury very much.
If you have been accused of any kind of crime related to road rage -or believe you might be, please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free consultation with top San Diego road rage defense attorney Peter M. Liss.
Creative Commons Image by Tony Fischer