Being charged with negligent operation in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a serious problem. This charge is a misdemeanor, and if convicted, you will have a criminal charge on your record. A charge such as negligent operation is worse than just a speeding ticket, and you should take the matter up with an experienced defense attorney.
What Is Negligent Operation?
Negligent operation in Massachusetts is the term that is used to describe ‘reckless driving’ or ‘driving to endanger.’ This is a serious offense, and the consequences can be a suspended driver’s license, and even jail time in the most extreme circumstances.
How Is Negligent Operation Determined?
The police officer on the scene has a great amount of discretion in deciding to charge you with negligent operation, or operating to endanger. He might decide to charge you with negligent operation if he saw you speeding and cutting people off. Or, perhaps you were speeding and tailgating.
Other reasons that you can be charged include:
- Mechanical and physical condition of your car
- How fast you were driving and in what manner
- The type of road on which the violation happened
- Who else was on the road at the time
- Time of day and weather, as well as general road conditions
Whatever the exact reason, the police officer’s judgement of the situation is a major factor. This is another reason why you need to hire an experienced speeding or negligent operation attorney to help you fight the charge.
The statutes are fairly open to interpretation with negligent operation, so it means that the police officer may have made an error in judgement, if your attorney can convince the judge of this.
The prosecution will try to prove that you acted in a negligent or reckless manner that endangered any persons who were on the roadway at the time. And if convicted, you face serious penalties.
Common Negligent Actions
There are a variety of driving circumstances that can be charged as negligent operation. Some of them include driving the wrong way, weaving, excessive speeding, and almost any driving action that leads to an accident.
If you are charged with operating under the influence, you will almost always be charged with negligent operation as well. It was the negligent operation that first got the police officer’s attention.
OUI charges are complex, but negligent operation charges are even more so. If there is some chance that the state cannot prove the OUI, it is a lot easier to prove negligent operation. If you are facing an OUI and negligent operation charge, be smart and get a good defense attorney to represent you.
What The State Must Prove
A negligent operation charge involves the police stating that you drove your vehicle in a manner that endangered the lives and safety of the general public. Essentially, any deviation from normal driving can result in you being charged with negligent operation.
Negligent Operation Consequences
You face up to 2.5 years in jail and large fines. You also will have your driver’s license suspended for at least 60 days. Of course, you will probably not get jail time for negligent operation, unless you are a repeat offender. Still, this charge is much more than a mere speeding ticket.
If you do not have a prior record, a good attorney may be able to get a Continuance without Finding judgement. This plea would let you serve probation and avoids being found guilty, although it is essentially the same under the law as admitting you are guilty.
If you are asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime, you can say no, IF you have a Continuance without Finding judgement. Again, you should have an expert attorney at your side in this case, as so much is at stake.
Note: If you are found guilty, you will almost always face a 60 day license suspension. If you are convicted, it means there was a finding of guilty. The Registry of Motor Vehicles does not consider Continuance without a Finding as a conviction.
If you have little previous record, you will often be offered a CWOF to resolve the situation. In many cases, a negligent operation charge can be resolved without a probationary period. You could have the charge dismissed entirely if you complete a driving course.
A CWOF also can be a satisfactory resolution to a negligent operation charge. There is a big difference between being found guilty and CWOF.
Potential Defense Strategies
If you have wisely retained a defense attorney, he or she can use several effective strategies to possibly get your charges dismissed. If you are ordered to appear at a clerk magistrate’s hearing, your attorney might be able to get the case dropped at the hearing.
In some cases, he or she can get this to happen if you agree to complete a driver’s safety course. Or, the charges could be dropped if a certain amount of time passes. Also, your attorney may get the case dropped if you agree to pay court costs, agree to pretrial probation, or take part in the Brains at Risk program.
You are wise to use a defense attorney to fight the charge because a conviction can have serious consequences for your car insurance premiums, your record and the status of your license.
Fight Negligent Operation Charges with Attorney Geoffrey Nathan
Attorney Geoffrey G. Nathan and his practice group are some of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ top legal experts in beating speeding charges, negligent operation, and other traffic offenses. If you have a speeding ticket, had your driver’s license suspended, or have any other serious traffic charge, including operating to endanger, contact Attorney Nathan’s team now. There is no charge for the initial consultation. Nathan’s team can win your case, so please call now.
Nathan’s practice group includes former judges, former law enforcement officials, MA legislators, and retired assistant district attorneys. They have the decades of experience and track record that you need to beat your traffic charge.