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"Road Rage," Criminal Assault and Homicide

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Road Rage becomes an epidemic

Road Rage Accident

By Attorney Elisabeth Pasqualini, Criminal Law Division Leader, Harrisburg, PA

Every time you pick up a paper or watch the news, there seems to be yet another story of criminal acts inflicted by one driver on another.  So many have occurred that there are websites dedicated to just sharing the stories.  Here are but two of the headlines I found:

Auburn man shot in possible road rage incident
by KING 5 News
Updated Sunday, Jan 2 at 4:44 PM

FEDERAL WAY, Wash. - A 31-year-old Auburn man was shot in the head in what the man described as being a "traffic related incident."
Fired Pittsburgh detective guilty of road rage
- The Associated Press
January 5, 2011 5:08pm EST

PITTSBURGH - A since-fired Pittsburgh police detective has been convicted of misdemeanor simple assault, reckless endangerment and criminal mischief for an off-duty road rage incident last year.

In 2009, the Pennsylvania House even adopted a Resolution condemning such acts and encouraging safe driving habits.  Citing to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA"), they stated the definition of "Road Rage." 

"An assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger(s) of another motor vehicle or an assault precipitated by an incident that occurred on a roadway."

Many times these incidents are avoidable if one of the parties simply would choose to ignore the other and pull off the roadway or go a different route.  Often times, as we see from the news, these incidents end tragically with violence resulting in an assault or homicide.  A homicidal act involving one of these incidents may be defensible as "voluntary manslaughter."  It does not negate the crime, but may reduce it from First Degree Murder and life imprisonment to a misdemeanor offense.

Voluntary manslaughter is the intentional killing of another, without malice aforethought, but in a sudden heat of passion caused by adequate legal provocation, before sufficient time has elapsed for the blood to cool and reason to resume control of the actor's conduct.  Stated differently, in order to reduce a homicide to voluntary manslaughter, the killing must have been committed under the influence of sudden passion which places the defendant beyond the control of reason and which is due to legally adequate provocation.

If you have questions regarding criminal charges arising from a "road rage" incident or have been accused of an assault, contact Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC toll free or email us.

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