Journal of Environmental Law & Litigation : Vol. 25, No. 2, p. 511-558 : Polluters as Perpetrators of Person Crimes: Charging Homicide, Assault, and Reckless Endangerment in the Face of Environmental Crime
This Article presents the theory that when victims of environmental crimes sustain serious bodily injury or death, state-level prosecutors may often charge the perpetrator with a traditional person crime alongside, or instead of, violations of environmental statutes. In order to show the efficacy of such a course of action, it is necessary to look at fact patterns of pollution that may cause serious bodily injury or death, and determine how state environmental and person crime statutes can deal with defendants in such situations. Assuming prosecutors are able to charge polluters with person crimes under their state laws, there are also some practical and jurisprudential issues to consider when deciding how to charge the crime. Part I of the Article suggests that certain serious bodily injuries or death can be caused by chronic, catastrophic, or unregulated polluting actions. Part II discusses the act and mental state elements of the various environmental crimes in New York, Oregon, and Florida that can deal with these serious cases of pollution, and Part III does the same for traditional person crimes. Part IV presents the issues of statutory analysis and discretion involved when a prosecutor determines whether to charge a polluter whose actions cause serious bodily injury or death with an environmental crime, a person crime, or both.