The California Highway Patrol (CHP) has become notorious in certain regions of the state in recent years for cracking down on reckless drivers. While it is clearly best if no one do anything that harms or could harm another person, it is not in anyone's best interest to have a police force that is eager to make arrests, stretching the truth to fit the charges. If you have been arrested and charged for reckless driving in California and aren't sure what to do next, you should start by knowing there are ways to defend yourself and fight a conviction.
The concept of reckless driving is somewhat vague on the surface. If a police officer thinks you have exhibited any behavior that could be interpreted as dangerous, they might see that as reason enough to call it reckless driving. However, the legal definition is fairly specific in what is and is not reckless driving; within this definition is the groundwork of a solid defense strategy.
According to the legal statute of reckless driving in California, the prosecution needs to prove two things:
- Public area: In order to be arrested for reckless driving, you must have been on a highway, public street, or in an off-street parking facility or lot. If you were on your own property or a private racing course, the charges may be dismissed with the right argument.
- Intent to be reckless: As with many crimes, intent is a major factor. There must be evidence that shows you were intentionally driving recklessly or in a way that clearly had the potential for causing serious injury or damage. What the police may not understand or appreciate is that you had the ability to safely control your vehicle, even if you were speeding down a highway. Your skill as a driver must be a considered factor, as your case is ultimately about your intent. If you can show that you were always in control of your vehicle, the reckless driving charges could be dropped and you might only face a speeding citation or gross negligence charges.
Each case will be different from the next so the specific details will vary, but it is important to remember that there is always a defense to reckless driving charges. If you are facing such charges, contact Scott Mitchell Law Incorporated and speak to our firm's Modesto criminal defense attorney about your case. You can also get a free initial consultation to learn your rights at no cost to you.