A young girl was summonsed to appear for a Clerk-Magistrateӳ Hearing upon a police officerӳ application for the issuance of a criminal complaint against her for Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle and Leaving the Scene of an Accident with Property Damage Resulting.
The girl was driving home alone from a bar early one morning. She resides in a rural area which has very thick vegetation narrow roads and poor lighting. She only consumed one beer at the bar. However she was tired and fatigued due to lack of sleep and a change in her sleep pattern on account of her work schedule. The girl nodded off at the wheel. When she regained consciousness she realized she was about to drive straight past her road. She made a sharp right turn onto her street. However her vehicle traveled over a patch of sand and went out of control. The vehicle then came to an abrupt stop after striking a large tree which totally destroyed the car. The girl managed to exit the vehicle though not from the driverӳ side door as it was damaged in the collision. The girl stood alone on a dark sparsely populated roadway in the middle of the night. Unable to find her cell phone she ran up the road past several homes until coming upon one with lights on. The girl approached the door and rang the bell. After being greeting by the resident the girl was able to use a telephone to call her parents who lived further up the road. Her mother and father then arrived in two separate vehicles. The girlӳ father took her home to get some rest while the mother proceeded to the accident scene to stay with the damaged vehicle until the tow truck they had called for arrived. While waiting for the tow truck the girlӳ mother was approached by a police officer who inquired about the owner of the car; time and cause of accident; and whereabouts of the driver. The police were apparently notified of the accident by the tow truck operator. When the officer learned from the mother about what had occurred he proceeded to the familyӳ home to interview the girl.
The officer went to the girlӳ home and was initially greeted by her father. The father let the officer inside at which time he met and interviewed the girl. She admitted to consuming one beer earlier at the bar; being tired and fatigued; getting behind the wheel under these conditions; speeding; and falling asleep at the wheel. Based on her admissions as well as the damaged vehicle and tree the officer cited the girl with Speeding and advised her that he would also seek to criminally charge her with Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle and Leaving the Scene of an Accident with Property Damage Resulting. Days later the officerӳ promise came true when the girl received a summons to appear for a Clerk-Magistrateӳ Hearing in District Court. These hearings occur when a police officer seek to charge an individual with misdemeanor offenses. The officer must apply to the Court for issuance of a criminal complaint if he does not place the individual under arrest.
The girl and her family retained Attorney Calcagni to represent her in connection with the Clerk-Magistrateӳ Hearing. In preparation for this event Attorney Calcagni obtained a copy of the police report and visited the accident scene. He then prepared the girl to provide testimony to the Clerk-Magistrate about what occurred that night from her perspective. At the time of the hearing a representative of the investigating police department appeared. The police representativeӳ testimony summarized the contents of the police narrative. Attorney Calcagni cross-examined him to establish certain facts important to the girlӳ defense namely that no one saw or witnessed the accident; no one saw or witnessed the manner in which the girl was driving; the investigating officer found no evidence of intoxication or that the consumption of one beer caused or contributed to the accident; and the tree which the officer alleged was damaged by the accident was previously marked for removal by National Grid its owner. Thereafter the girl testified in response to Attorney Calcagniӳ direct questions. She specifically testified that after the accident she had no way of contacting anyone because she could not locate her cell phone. She further described conditions of the road to include dark and poor visibility little to no lighting no traffic at all and essentially no one to go to for help. Because of these factors she chose to leave the accident scene and go to a neighborӳ house to call for help. The girl also testified that once her parents arrived her dad took her home while her mom waited with her damaged car until a tow truck arrived. Following her testimony Attorney Calcagni argued that the girl had done nothing criminal. She is a hardworking young lady bound for college with no prior criminal history and with an otherwise good driving record. He further argued that the girl acted reasonably on the night of the accident by leaving the scene to get help and ensuring that her mother remained present on scene while she went home with her father to get some rest. Attorney Calcagni also argued that the Court could not conclude his client operated negligently absent any witnesses to the event. In closing he quoted the police officer by stating his client was lucky the night of the accident in that she did not sustain any personal injuries despite the total loss of her car. He told the Clerk-Magistrate that he hoped that same luck would carry throughout the hearing.
As a result of Attorney Calcagniӳ efforts all criminal charges against the girl were dismissed.
Criminal Case Result:
- Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle and Leaving the Scene of an Accident: Clerk-Magistrateӳ Hearing: All Criminal Charges Dropped