Fatal crashes draw attention to the difficulty prosecutors have in determing accident vs. criminal

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -  

Recent fatal crashes beg the question how do prosecutors decide what is an accident and what is criminal.

The district attorney's office says it can be difficult to find that line between a simple accident and vehicular manslaughter but they say it typically takes a specific action by the driver to cross over that line.

Supervising deputy district attorney Michael Yraceburn uses a recent case as an example.

He says a woman was driving when she jerked the wheel to settle down her rowdy passengers.

The vehicle rolled and one person died.

"She did something affirmatively in negligent manner. You shouldn't be doing that at that speed so that combination of facts we say ok that’s a simply criminally negligent case that warrants a misdemeanor filing," Yraceburn said.

Prosecutors also have the option of felony vehicular manslaughter, but those cases are usually clearer cut.

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