Tommy Clark, 25 years old and from the Farmington area in Maine, stands accused of striking a young woman with his car and leaving her for dead on the side of the road. He's been charged with Manslaughter, Leaving the Scene of an Accident with Serious Bodily Injury and Aggravated Criminal OUI. If convicted, young Mr. Clark could face as much as 35 years in prison. Obviously, these are serious charges. Due to the fact that the Defendant is perceived as a flight risk, bail was set at $75,000.00.
It would appear at first blush that Mr. Clark made some critical errors in failing to exercise his rights during the investigative portion of the proceedings. According to newspaper reports, Mr. Clark was found after the accident at a hotel. During the investigation, he made some incriminating statements regarding his level of intoxication as well as the number and types of drinks consumed earlier in the evening. If the defense attorney can't keep these statements out of the ears of the jury, this case might be over before the defense can even get started.
In Maine and throughout the US, people are entitled to certain constitutional protections. In the Clark case, those protections would include the right to remain silent and the right to refrain from making self-incriminating statements that can be used against the defendant at a trial. In order to be entitled to those constitutional protections, the police have to not only interrogate or question a person, that person has to be subject to arrest or custody. If the police in the Clark case had placed him under arrest, prior to questioning him, they would have had to read Mr. Clark his Miranda rights. If they failed to do so, those damaging statements might be deemed inadmissible.
In this case, it would appear that the worst and most damaging aspect of the case is that Mr. Clark failed to stop and render aid. Instead, he chose to run and hide in a motel, which is where he was found later. Mr. Clark's girlfriend appears to have reported the accident by calling 911. The defense will have a very difficult time "end running" these facts, if they're deemed admissible.
Of course, the state has to prove each and every element of the charges, beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, if the Defendant's admissions of intoxication don't come in and the blood test comes in under a .08%, the Defense will likely have something to work with. Sadly, in most cases, folks shoot themselves in the foot by speaking with the police in the hopes of improving the likelihood of leniency or by proving they're clever enough to throw "the cops off their scent".
Speaking with the police is the worst thing you could ever do. Your first call, if you're confronted by the police, is to a criminal defense attorney. Preferably, someone with years of experience in defending these types of cases. If you or a loved one find yourself facing years or decades behind bars due to a drunk driving fatality case, please call this office immediately. A good criminal attorney can make all the difference in your case. Call now.