Still No Charges Filed In Toms River Tragedy [AUDIO]
A legal expert weighing in on the investigation of the Toms River boy, who shot his six-year-old playmate believes the child will not be facing severe legal ramifications, and in likelihood neither will the parents.
Greg Gianforcaro, a Phillipsburg-based attorney with 25 years experience, says based on the information available to the public, regardless of whether the four-year-old pulled the trigger intentionally or by accident, a child that young can't be held culpable for his actions in the eyes of the law.
"They'll not be able to formulate the requisite criminal intent to understand what they're doing. No matter, how upsetting or terrible the circumstances are in this situation a four year old will never be charged as an adult, but I suspect this four year will never be even charged as a child."
The Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office, who is responsible for the investigation, has yet to file any charges towards the child or parents. Many speculate the parents could be in hot water because the .22 caliber rifle used in the shooting belonged to the father, and was possibly left loaded.
While Gianforcaro believes it is possible for them to receive weapons charges, it is highly unlikely they will be charged for the murder of the six-year-old boy.
He says if the parents were involved in committing a felony that lead to the death of the six-year-old, they could be charged with a felony murder charge. However, he notes that's not what appeared to have happen in Toms River.
"What appears to have happened here is the parents simply left their weapon loaded and exposed. And in that situation, it's really not a felony. There is a charge in New Jersey called 'access by minors to loaded firearms,' but that is a disorderly persons offense and is punishable by up to six months in jail and $1,000 fine."
While it's even rare for people convicted of disorderly persons offenses to receive full jail time, Gianforcaro says given the situation it is a possibility.
The other issue is a civil suit, which the parents of the victim could still sue the parents of the four-year-old.
"They could sue and they could go for after the parents of the young boy for their negligence, and I would say extreme or gross negligence. And I think that's more likely under these circumstances."