Staged accidents are just that — “accidents” that are staged. Often times orchestrated by sophisticated crime rings, these intentional collisions are planned to make it look like an insured driver is at fault when, in reality, the insured driver was “set up” by the seemingly victimized party/parties.
Staged accidents are extremely dangerous and subject the individual or group who organized the collision to a variety of penalties.
The most common charge filed in connection with these accidents is Penal Code 548 PC, California's auto insurance fraud law. If convicted of auto insurance fraud under California Penal Code 548 PC, the defendant faces a state prison sentence of up to five years plus an additional and consecutive three to six year sentence if anyone other than the defendant or an accomplice suffers a serious injury.
Another charge that is related to staged accidents is assault with a deadly weapon. Under California's ADW law, a car qualifies as a deadly weapon and subjects the defendant to four years in the state prison, with the same possible sentencing enhancement if anyone suffers a serious injury.
If anyone is killed as a result of the “accident”, the defendant(s) will face prosecution for vehicular manslaughter. Vehicular manslaughter carries a possible ten-year prison sentence when committed during the course of a staged accident. (See our article, Assault with a deadly weapon or Assault with a firearm in California law.)