One thing that the prosecution has to weigh is the potential war chest the defense will bring in on a case. I imagine the defense in this case had lined up a large number of experts that average clients would not be able to mount. It would be interesting to see what the guys blood alcohol level is and see how embellished the report is. It just goes to show not every case is the same in DUI.
News spread quickly that DUI charges had been dropped by the State Attorney’s Office against former Florida State University cornerback Kenneth (P.J.) Williams Monday.
Defense attorneys in Tallahassee started receiving messages from clients, both past and present, asking why their cases had been handled differently than Williams’. His charges were dropped after prosecutors cited a lack of compelling video evidence to move forward with the case.
Williams, 21, was arrested April 3 by FSU police officers on West Tennessee Street. Court records say he swerved over the center line a number of times, stopped at a green light and nearly hit a curb. Officers said Williams’ eyes were red and watery and he spoke with slurred speech. Court documents show he was driving a rental car on a suspended license.
However, parts of the stop were not captured on the dash cam video, which prosecutors said would make it hard to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that Williams was driving under the influence of alcohol.
President of the Tallahassee Chapter of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Aaron Wayt said that he and many other defense attorneys in Tallahassee were surprised how quickly the decision to drop charges was made.
“Generally, it does take some time to go through the discovery process,” Wayt said. “But I think if the State Attorney’s Office is going to apply the reasoning they laid out in that document to everyone, it should be a good thing for anyone arrested in Leon County.”
Wayt, who handles mostly DUI cases, said the State Attorney’s Office generally takes a hard stance on the charges, but prosecutors and police have a different burden of proof.
“The state looks like they didn’t want to waste taxpayer money and time to go to trial because they couldn’t prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt,” Wayt said.
Williams’ Orlando attorney, Jonathan Simon, said the state dropping the charges was not unexpected and the original police report was embellished and exaggerated.
“We were fairly confident that the dash cam footage and the video cam footage would not support the report,” he said.
Simon said Williams was not charged with driving with a suspended license because he did not know his license was suspended due to an unpaid ticket.
Typically, a person is arrested for driving with a suspended license if they do so knowingly, Simon said. Simon said Williams paid the bill shortly after his arrest.
Not submitting to a breathalyzer and field sobriety test resulted in his license being suspended again. Simon said Williams can take a two-day alcohol-awareness class and get a hardship license so he can go to games and practice.
His license remains suspended for failure to submit to a breath test, according to Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles records.
Williams is expected to be selected in the NFL draft. Simon said he’ll take the alcohol class in the city in which he is selected. Until then, he will be taking Uber.
Simon said his client was not given special treatment because of his status as an FSU football player.
“I think it was the opposite,” he said. “I think the cop actually went the opposite way and tried to make an example out of him.”
Wayt said he and other attorneys are looking for the same reasoning used in Williams’ case to be used when their clients are facing similar charges.
“We’re kind of hoping this will be a new stance on working with people arrested for DUI,” he said. “(Attorneys) are excited at the chance that their case is going to receive the same treatment, but of course cautious to see if it’ll be done.”
The full article can be found here.
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