Everyone knows it’s dangerous to throw rocks at a car, so it makes sense that doing so is illegal. You might not realize that throwing something at a car is illegal even seemingly innocent items like empty water bottles. So why is throwing something at a car illegal even if it is seemingly harmless? While it may seem extreme to penalize throwing a a piece of cheese at a car the same way you would a baseball, the law is there to protect drivers.
Throwing Something at Cars is Illegal
Under California law, it is illegal to throw any substance at a vehicle that is on a public road. It doesn’t matter if the car is parked or what the object may be. The purpose of this law is twofold: it both stops property destruction from items like rocks being thrown at either parked or moving vehicles, and it protects drivers from having their views blocked by thrown objects, whether that means a piece of cheese or a beer bottle.
Throwing something at a car is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months jail time, however if your attorney can show that you were not throwing the item at the car, you may be able to avoid conviction all together. For example, if you were throwing a baseball with your friends on your front lawn and you accidentally threw it too hard and hit a car, you could be liable for the damages to the car, but not criminally liable for throwing the ball. Similarly, if you were holding a plastic bottle in your hand outside the window of your vehicle while drinking some soda and failed to hold on tightly enough when you went on the freeway, you can’t be charged for throwing an object out of a moving vehicle simply because the bottle flew out of your hands and hit the car behind you -although you could be cited for littering.
Throwing Something at a Car With Bad Intentions
While throwing something at a car may be legally the same in most case, whether the object is a brick or paper cup, it is not the case if the prosecution can prove that you willfully and maliciously threw something at a car that is capable of causing great bodily harm with the intent to actually seriously hurt the person inside. This much more serious crime is a felony and can be punished by up to three years in prison. Fortunately, it can be very hard to prove that someone acted “willfully and maliciously with the intent to cause great bodily harm,” so a top defense lawyer may be able to have these charges negotiated down to the lesser charge of simply throwing something at a car in many cases.
Throwing Something at a Car That Results in Death
When someone is killed as a result of your throwing something at a car though, it is worth knowing that you could actually be charged with murder. In fact, many young people across the nation have been accused of murder in exactly this scenario. Generally this happens when someone decides to throw rocks from an overpass onto a freeway where it is recognized that the accelerated speed of the vehicles makes the rocks far more likely to enter the windshield and harm the occupants. In these cases, it is critical you do not say anything to the police before first speaking to your lawyer.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime after throwing a rock at a vehicle, Peter M. Liss can help. Please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation.
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