Legal Expert: Stewart Could Face Charges, Even Without Proven Intent

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August 13, 2014 6:36am PST

Last Saturday, NASCAR’s Tony Stewart was involved in a fatal accident in which he struck and killed 20-year-old driver Kevin Ward Jr. As the public continues to argue as to whether or not Stewart was to blame, some legal experts recently weighed in to say it might not matter.

Although Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero announced that preliminary findings did not discover anything criminal, he later said on Tuesday that their investigation would take at least another two weeks if not more depending on what they find. Many people, because of Povero’s decision, think Stewart to be in the clear, but they could be wrong.

(See also: Sheriff’s Release: Charges Could Be Filed Against Stewart In Two Weeks)

According to criminal law professor Corey Rayburn Yung of the Kansas University School of Law, prosecutors don’t necessarily have to prove intent on Stewart’s part in order to file criminal charges. Whether or not Stewart did all he could to avoid Ward or was being a show-off trying to hit him with some mud may be irrelevant as it must just be proven that he, “recklessly caused the death of another person.”

“The question over whether someone was reckless is a factual one, and one a prosecutor might let a jury decide,” Yung explained.

As INDYSTAR writes:

In a 1949 case that Yung uses in his class, midget car racer Joseph Sostilio was found guilty of manslaughter after he tried to squeeze a four foot-wide vehicle through a two-foot opening at 40 mph, crashing into another car and sending it into the one driven by Stephen D. Bishop. Bishop’s car flipped three times and he was killed.

So, as a result, Stewart could face charges regardless of his intent at the time and could even come down to a discovery as simple as Stewart not paying attention or going too fast during a time when the caution flag was seen. Either way, this reality seems unlikely to occur given Povero’s announcements; then again, he did say they’d be looking into the incident for another two weeks.

(See also: NASCAR Considering Significant Rule Changes After Stewart Crash)

Who knows what they’ll find?

What do you guys think – is this something for Stewart and his fans to be wary of or is this extremely unlikely to ever come true? Feel free to let us know in the comments below.

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