View Full Version : Q about law/manslaughter/other charges in accidental shooting

11-07-2011, 05:46 PM
In my story a major part of my plot involves a group of six friends are camping in Alaska. They are 20. At some point, two of the guys think it will be funny to hide in the bushes, pretending to be a bear, and scare another friend. Prank goes horribly wrong when the friend shoots and accidentally kills one of the guys hiding. Btw, his having the gun is perfectly legal.

Is it possible in this scenario for no charges to be filed? Or what would the most likely scenario be? I've tried very hard to research this and am fairly confident that he could either get a pass, or be given probation, but I want to hear from anyone who knows better than me.

Thanks for any help!

The Grift
11-07-2011, 07:21 PM
It all depends on the circumstances of the shooting. It seems likely in this case that he could get a slap on the wrist, or the prosecutor could even decline to file charges. There would definitely be an investigation, but it's possible it could be dismissed as a tragic accident.

Or, on the other hand, if you want some punishment, that's also possible.

11-07-2011, 07:32 PM
Shooting would be investigated ...

Shooting BOTH might make it a little dicier to justify under any circumstances. It would require two accurate shots rather than one lucky one. To do that, you'd have to have the target in the sight.

11-07-2011, 08:02 PM
The accident is just that, an accident, so I want to write it that there is an investigation but no charges.

I know that there are plenty of cases where hunters accidentally shoot people which can result in a myriad of charges or none at all. And there are plenty of cases of misfired weapons resulting in deaths--my case seems to fall somewhere between these two situations though so I've not been able to find examples of charges filed (or not) in a case similar to what I've proposed.

Thank you both for your help!

11-07-2011, 08:15 PM
I'm not sure I completely understand the scenario. Friend had no idea the people were hiding in the bushes? And thought he was shooting at a bear?

Doesn't sound like any crime was committed. Unless it's illegal to shoot bears.

Now, if he knows his friends are in the bushes, and shoots in their direction in an attempt to scare them, and one dies -- that's a different story. I don't know Alaska law, but in my state it's probably at least reckless homicide (re: the dead guy) and wanton endangerment (re: the other guy).

11-07-2011, 08:26 PM
Right Smish, exactly. He shot into the bushes thinking he was shooting a bear, accidentally killing his friend who was clearly an idiot for hiding in the first place.

He had no idea anyone was hiding. I guess I should've been more clear about that!

And no, it's not illegal to shoot bears. However, a hunter who kills someone because he thinks he's shooting a deer is often charged with criminal negligence or misuse of a firearm...I'm thinking it could go either way here as well. I just want to confirm that it could go the way I want it to...

The Grift
11-07-2011, 11:58 PM
I just want to confirm that it could go the way I want it to...

It can. http://www.wolfsongnews.org/news/Alaska_current_events_1367.htm

11-08-2011, 12:30 AM
The most likely scenario, whether it would be state or federal (national park) jurisdiction, would be that results of the investigation would be submitted to the prosecutorial authority (e.g.; District Attorney, U.S. Attorney) for review and determination of procedure.

The prosecutor could proceed on a bill of information, and prosecute the case. But that may not be the wisest course in a case such as this.

Typically, if there is any question as to criminal culpability, the case would be presented to a Grand Jury for a final determination as to charges, if any.

Grand Jury findings can be...

An indictment or true bill, articulating charges to be brought and prosecuted (a warrant for arrest is typically issued, the person is brought before the court, advised of their rights, appointed counsel if required, and subsequently arraigned).

Or no bill, wherein the Grand Jury does not feel a prosecution is warranted. Absent the discovery of any new evidence, the case is essentially closed.

In a sense, the Grand Jury process removes the prosecutor from the equation and gives him a sort of plausible deniability in not pursuing an unpopular or politically perilous case.

11-08-2011, 03:02 AM
Grift, thank you for that!
Ironmike, that is beyond helpful--I had no idea I knew so little about prosecution and related procedures. I was able to do some more research on my own based off of what you explained and am fairly certain now of how I'm going to proceed.