My client, (I will call him John) is a successful entrepreneur who owns a vacation home on the beach on Tybee Island, Georgia. He was charged with DUI less safe (alcohol), Open container, and Following too closely. This would have been his fifth DUI in life. This could have been bad. But, it turned out good. You always have a chance. Always.
The preliminary hearing is a critical stage. The purpose of the preliminary hearing is to see if there was probable cause that a person committed a crime. This is a low burden of proof. Ninety-nine percent of the time there is probable cause. But, sometimes probable cause is not proved. This was one of those times.
It was 4:30 p.m. in the Tybee Island Municipal Court when our case was called. We hired a court reporter and she was there to make a record of the preliminary hearing. I told the judge to order the witnesses out of the courtroom so that each police officer could not hear the testimony of other officers.
Officer One testified. She was the primary police officer who made the police report. The primary officer is the officer who makes the decision to arrest. Officer One said she smelled alcohhol on John, and his eyes were red and glossy. Officer One said Officer Two talked to John. That’s all. At that moment I knew something was wrong. On cross-examination, I got Officer One to tell the court that she didn’t make the decision to arrest John. She said that Officer Two made the arrest decision.
Officer Two testified. On cross, Officer Two said, “I was not the arresting officer.” He said that Officer One was. Then he said that Officer Three read John his Implied Consent rights. That was it. The district attorney said “Let’s talk.” We agreed that John may plead guilty to reckless driving and the DUI charge will be dismissed. Here is the the result:
- DUI less safe (alcohol): Dismissed, Negotiated guilty plea to reckless driving
- Open container: Dismissed
- Following too closely: Dismissed
Anytime you are in the courtroom, you have a chance. Even at the preliminary hearing. Case closed.