A man accused of intentionally driving his Tesla Model Y off a cliff while his family was inside the vehicle is looking to avoid a criminal conviction. The motion was filed in San Mateo County Superior Court.
Back in January, news of a white Tesla Model Y falling off a cliff at Devil’s Slide in California spread like wildfire. Despite the severity of the crash and the fact that the vehicle plunged 250 feet down a rocky cliff, all the Model Y’s passengers survived. The survival of the vehicle’s occupants was deemed by rescuers as nothing short of a miracle.
The news about the incident took a dark turn, however, as reports emerged stating that Nena, one of the vehicle’s passengers and the wife of driver Dharmesh Patel, told rescuers that her husband had intentionally driven the Model Y off the cliff. The statement was chilling as the couple was traveling with their two children, a 7-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son, at the time.
Patel was later arrested by the California Highway Patrol and charged with three counts of attempted murder. Patel would also plead not guilty in court. And as per a report from The Los Angeles Times, Patel has now filed a motion arguing that his case should be moved to Mental Health Diversion Court due to his major depressive disorder.
It appears that Patel’s legal team is hoping that the 2018 Mental Health Diversion Court law could help him evade a criminal sentence. With the law, offenders could have their prosecutions postponed provided that they are ordered by a judge to go into a mental health treatment program. The programs could not last longer than a year for misdemeanor cases, and for felonies, the programs could not last longer than two years.
And while such crimes such as murder and manslaughter are excluded from eligibility to the program, Patel is only charged with attempted murder. Charges of attempted murder are not barred from the program, though the decision of whether Patel could go into mental health treatment program would fall on a judge. Los Angeles defense attorney Lou Shapiro, however, noted that a judge may not respond favorably to Patel’s legal team’s request.
“When you have a situation like this where the act was very egregious and this could happen again, and people could get very badly hurt, a judge is going to be less likely to want to take that risk and grant diversion,” Shapiro said.
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