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The Police Officer Missed Court, Case Dismissed?
Do you automatically win the case if the Police donít show up at trial?
The answer is generally no, you donít automatically win the case if the cops miss court, at least not usually on the first try.
My experience is, it really varies depending on many factors, including:
The attitude of the judge, and the likelihood that the prosecutor will be able to produce the police officer by the next court data are the biggest factors.
There are some judges who really donít like to throw a case out and they will give the Commonwealth several extra chances if there is any way that they can do so or there is any reasonable chance that they are going to bring witnesses into court.
Other judges that are more concerned that the client has a right to a speedy trial and are interested in protecting that right. You can also say that they really want to move the cases along and if the Commonwealth is not able to produce witness/witnesses, they are all too happy to throw out the case because it is one less thing that they have to worry about.
Another factor can be the facts of the case itself. Judges will sometimes take a look at the case and if they think that it is a strong case for the Commonwealth, they are more likely to hold on to the case. But it they think it is bad case for the Commonwealth, part of their rational is: even if the witnesses do show up, chances are that it is going to be a not guilty. If the case is weak, there is no breath test result, and the evidence of drunk driving isn't compelling, that can definitely be a factor. If the judge thinks the case is likely to be a not guilty, he or she may just dismissed it at trial because the officer isnít there, rather than clog up the court docket.
One the final factor is; why isnít the officer there?
Sometimes there is no good excuse, and that absolutely favors the defendant and the judge is more likely to throw that case out. If an officer is anticipating a schedule conflict, he should have notified the prosecutor, who would then notify the court and the defense, so as not to waste everyone's time.
But sometimes, the officer has a reasonable excuse. I have had situations where the officer has been injured as recently as the day before. If that is the case, most likely he or she will give the officer another chance. I also had a case where there had been a high profile death of a trooper. If your officer doesnít show up because he went to the funeral, the judges are also going to give a great deal of leeway in such a situation.
As you can see, there is no hard and fast rule as to what happens when officer doesnít show up, and different judges may respond differently depending on the situation. Some give the police a lot of leeway, and some are happy to dismiss the case to keep the court backlog to a minimum.
I know that having to show up multiple times for a trial because the prosection doesn't have the witnesses to put on the case is extremely disruptive and stressful to my clients.
So it is my job as an attorney to make the best possible argument to the judge as to why the case should be dismissed, and sometimes I can get them to dismisss the case.
Call me now for a free consultation on your Massachusetts OUI case, in any MA district court.
Attorney Russell Matson
© 2012 The Law Offices of Russell J Matson, PC
44 Adams St, Suite 5