Imagine being home asleep at 4:00 a.m. and having a car crash through the front of your house. That is apparently what happened last year on Staten Island, when Charles Trainor lost control of his car and slammed into a residence on Arthur Kill Road.
The woman inside the home, and her young daughter, were trapped underneath the front end of the car, and both were seriously injured. The child’s skull was fractured, and the mother received third degree burns. Police say that Trainor ran a stop sign just prior to the accident. They also say his blood alcohol content (BAC) was 0.07 when measured at the scene of the accident.
He was originally charged with multiple counts of first degree vehicular assault, second degree vehicular assault, driving while intoxicated and reckless driving. Last week he entered a plea of guilty to two counts of first degree vehicular assault. The agreement will result in a dismissal of the remaining counts, including the charge of DWI. He is expected to be sentenced to between one and three years in prison.
In this case, the charge of first degree vehicular assault was based upon the allegation that Trainor was driving while intoxicated, and caused serious physical injury to more than one person. Note that his BAC was 0.07, which is below the per se legal limit of 0.08. Nevertheless, you can be convicted of driving while intoxicated even if there is no chemical evidence that your BAC was 0.08 or higher. In this case, Trainor and his attorneys were apparently concerned enough about the possibility of a conviction that they decided to cut a deal which limited the potential incarceration time. In that regard, vehicular assault in the first degree is a class D felony. If convicted, each count carried a potential prison term of up to seven years. When you consider all the charges against Trainor, as well as the severity of the injuries, particularly for the child, there was a possibility that he could have received a sentence in excess of 15 years in prison if the case went to trial and resulted in a conviction on all counts.
This case is just one example of many in which the defense must weigh the chances of an acquittal or a conviction, along with the potential downside in terms of sentencing, to arrive at a conclusion as to whether a particular plea bargain is or is not in the defendant’s interests.
George Vomvolakis Law Offices
275 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016