Big Prelim Win In Theft Case
Our client was charged with four felonies (2 counts of Theft by Misrepresentation over $10,000 and 2 counts of Theft by Fraudulent Writings). Our client steadfastly maintained his innocence. The allegations were that our client, an employee with a local body shop, had the task of assessing damage to vehicles on various car dealerships, getting approval from the dealerships to repair the minor damage(s), removing the vehicle to take off-site to repair the damage. The process involved documenting the damage on a work order and then invoicing the dealership upon completion of the work. Over time, 2 dealerships having work done on their vehicles by the local body shop started to suspect the work being invoiced to them and that they were paying for, was not being done. They complained to the body shop and the owner of the body shop reimbursed the 2 dealerships for the full amount they claimed was paid out for no work – a total of close to $25,000.
At the preliminary examination in the case (generally a very one-sided hearing in favor of the State, and a hearing with the lowest burden of proof in any type of criminal case) the State called 1 witness, the investigating detective. The detective relayed information he was given by the owner of the body shop and the general managers of the various dealerships. The detective was unable to state with any certainty that our client actually submitted any invoices for payment, much less any fraudulent invoices. In fact, through cross-examination of the detective, Attorney Mays was able to get the detective to admit that the process by which the invoices were submitted for payment actually went through the owner of the body shop who, himself, would submit them not to the sales managers or general managers of the dealerships for payment, but instead, through the dealerships’ bookkeeper (the same person for both of the dealerships) thereby getting all invoices submitted approved for payment without anyone ever confirming repairs had been done. After not hearing enough credible evidence from the State, the Court ordered the preliminary examination be continued so the State could call additional witnesses to try to establish more evidence in support of their allegations.
At Part II of the preliminary examination, the State called one of the general managers of one of the dealerships and the owner of the body shop. Through cross-examination of both witnesses, Attorney Mays was able to get both witnesses to admit that our client, himself, never presented a single invoice for payment, thereby eliminating any chance he had committed theft. Strangely enough, after this argument was successfully made by Attorney Mays, thereby arguing the necessity of a dismissal of the Theft by Fraud cases, the State changed tune and attempted to argue that by not doing the body work on the vehicles the body shop owner, himself,submitted the invoices for payment on, that the theft occurred by our client submitting his hourly rate time and getting paid for work they claimed was never done. Attorney Mays was successful in establishing that no one could testify or present any evidence that our client was not working, thereby requiring dismissal of all charges, Theft by Fraud/Misrepresentation and Fraudulent Writings. Case dismissed.
Our client was suspected of a hit-and-run causing damage to a business garage door. Law enforcement was dispatched to his home. Upon arriving, officers initially received no immediate response when knocking at his front door. Officers then walked to the side lawn of the residence and peered in the windows of a lit attached garage and found our client seemingly passed out on the hood of his vehicle. They again went to the front door and made contact with a guest inside the residence. They demanded consent to enter the garage. When that was not provided, officers went to the rear of the garage and kicked in a service door, claiming this action was justified on the grounds that a check of our client’s welfare was necessary. However, upon entry, officers proceeded to immediately question our client about the alleged hit-and-run, and ultimately arrested him for that offense and drunk driving. Attorney Orth challenged the officers’ actions as an unlawful search and home entry for investigative purposes under the disingenuous guise of a welfare check. Following a hearing, the Court ruled that from the moment officers entered his lawn to look into the windows of his garage, their actions were a violation of his right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and ordered that all evidence, including all observations of our client, his identification, and the subsequent blood alcohol test, be suppressed for use at trial. The end result being dismissal of all charges.
Field Sobriety Test & Police Misrepresentation
Our client was stopped for speeding in the late hours of a Friday evening. Upon making contact with him, the officer noted a strong odor of intoxicants, that his eyes appeared bloodshot and glassy, and that his speech was slurred. The officer then administered field sobriety tests and a preliminary breath test indicating that his breath alcohol level was nearly twice the legal limit. After reviewing squad car and body cam footage, Attorney Mays challenged our client’s arrest as being unlawful for lack of probable cause, in violation of his rights under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Having extensive experience in evaluating officers’ administration of field sobriety tests, Attorney Mays determined that this officer failed to adhere to the protocols developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and successfully argued to the Court that they could therefore not be used to establish probable cause to arrest out client. Review of the video footage further revealed that when requesting that our client submit to a preliminary breath test, the officer told him that the test result could not be used in court. Contrary to the officer’s representation, a preliminary breath test can be used in court, and the prosecution did indeed attempt to use the result to establish probable cause to arrest in lieu of field sobriety tests. Attorney Mays successfully argued to the Court that our client’s consent to the breath test was obtained through deception, and was therefore invalid, rendering the result inadmissible. The court ruled that our client’s arrest was unlawful and ordered all evidence from that point on, including a post-arrest evidentiary breath alcohol test, be suppressed for use at trial. The end result being the dismissal of all charges, and reinstatement of our client’s commercial driver license.
Our client was charged with felony substantial battery following an altercation at a tavern. The mother of alleged “victim” contacted the police the following day after realizing that his injuries required medical attention and brief hospitalization. He claimed that our client viciously attacked him without provocation and provided several witnesses to verify this claim. Our client steadfastly proclaimed his innocence and maintained that the first interaction he had with the “victim” was when he jumped on our client’s back, after which time, our client vigorously (and very effectively) defended himself. After interviewing as many patrons of the tavern as could be identified, Attorneys Mays and Orth were able to produce a number of witnesses to undermine the claims of the “victim” and verify our client’s account of event. While there were witnesses in support of both parties, in the end, the “victim” himself turned out to be the most effective defense witness. A careful review of hours of video footage of the victim during his time at the hospital revealed that shortly before leaving the hospital, when he became aware that the police had been contacted by his mother, the victim told his girlfriend that he wanted to leave “before the cops get here.” Following two days of evidence being presented, Attorney Mays successfully argued to the jury that if the “victim” was truly a victim, then he certainly would have been eager to meet with officers, not avoid them, and this critical fact established that the defense witnesses, and not the “victim’s,” were to be trusted and believed. The end result being a not guilty verdict without our client ever having to say a word in his own defense.