A mother and her six-month-old child suffered second degree burns after a fireworks malfunction in Lancaster. According to police, a man was setting of fireworks when one of them malfunctioned and started shooting fireballs at a group of spectators. Attorney Barry Covert spoke to WGRZ about the legal ramifications of this event and who could be charged. The full story is available on the WGRZ website. For more information on the laws involved in this case, click here.
Basis for charges
WGRZ asked Mr. Covert what police are looking for when deciding whether or not to charge the mother. “They’re really looking for intentional conduct,” Mr. Covert answered. He went on to say that the biggest question is whether the child was knowingly put in harm’s way or if it was truly an accident. For example, “leaving a child in a car with the windows closed in the summertime. That’s knowingly putting a child in harm’s way,” he explained.
When asked what it takes for someone to face charges for setting off fireworks, particularly since this action is illegal in Erie County, Mr. Covert explained, “It is illegal but it really only gets charged if someone gets harmed, like this case, or when the neighbors complain. We have a lot of those cases recently where the neighbors complain and say, ‘The fireworks came close to me, I fear it put me in danger, we warned the person who was firing the fireworks and they didn’t stop firing them.’ That’s usually what it takes.”
Fireworks becoming more common
Mr. Covert told WGRZ that, since laws are different in Niagara and Erie County, it’s possible that these occurrences will become more common. “I think we’re going to see a lot more because you can go to Niagara County and you can always go out of state to Pennsylvania but,” he explained, “with the recent change in Niagara County, I think you’re going to see a lot more people in Erie County and the surrounding counties that have the fireworks and I really have seen even a lot more this past weekend than I can recall in the past.”
About Barry N. Covert
Mr. Covert is a senior partner in Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria’s Criminal Defense Trials and Appeals Practice Area. He is known for his aggressive representation of clients in the areas of New York State and federal criminal trials and appeals; driving while intoxicated; constitutional law, including First Amendment, civil rights actions, and federal False Claims Act; defending against allegations of scientific misconduct and fraud, research misconduct and fraud, plagiarism, and fabrication of evidence; and professional licensing defense. Mr. Covert frequently provides legal analysis for WGRZ and other media outlets.