Ghuzlan Alghazali, 26, and Mohamed Alfageeh, 29, both of Allston have had a rough week in the Massachusetts criminal justice system. It resulted from a horrific and tragic accident over the weekend. There was a crash in Back Bay and two pedestrians were left dead.
As the week began, Alghazali, whom the Commonwealth claims was driving the vehicle, was facing two counts of Motor Vehicle Homicide by negligent operation. More specifically, law enforcement claimed that She drove through a red light and struck another vehicle. That vehicle rolled over form the impact and struck the two pedestrians, causing the deaths.
Alfageeh, the alleged passenger in Alghazali’s car, was said to be facing charges of misleading investigators. That’s right, we are talking about the felony charge of Intimidation of a Witness, an unfortunately-named charge we have often discussed. His alleged crime was in telling law enforcement that it had been him driving the car instead of Alghazali.
The stated reason for the lie, according to police, was to protect Alghazali, who did not have a valid license to drive.
While, as the week began, no arraignment had been set for Alfageeh, one had been scheduled for Alghazali.
And then came Tuesday.
On Tuesday it was announced that there would be no arraignment yet. In fact, Alghazali, who had been held in custody, was released without any charges being brought…yet.
The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office announced that, instead, they were going to do more investigation. They are trying to determine who was driving and need to do ”further canvassing and evidentiary analysis.”
Further investigation to ascertain facts. Interesting concept.
Attorney Sam’s Take On Rushed Criminal Charges And Strategic Reasons For Presumptive Fairness
Despite how it may seem, Alghazali is nowhere near out of the woods yet. However, her criminal justice fate is tied very tight to that of her co-defendant.
What we don’t know is how law enforcement jumped to the conclusion as to the identity of the driver. They were so sure, in fact, that they not only charged one defendant as the driver, but actually charged the other defendant with lying to the police about who the driver was. Whoever turns out to be deemed the driver is clearly looking at a roadway of trouble ahead.
It used to be, back when commonsense had a hand in the application of justice, that there we’re such things as “accidents”. Those accidents were no less tragic… They just kept some of the issues in perspective. What would happen would be that one person would bring a civil lawsuit against the other person and work it out in court that way.
Things have changed. Those who rule our criminal justice system no longer seem to believe in “accidents”. Don’t make a mistake and assume that there is a chance that no one will be prosecuted in this case. At least one of these defendants will, indeed, be prosecuted for the accident itself.
“Well, Sam, shouldn’t that be the case? After all, the car did go through a red light and smash into another car. Further, if the driver was who the police believed it to be, she had no valid license.”
That’s true. However, if she was indeed the driver, there is no evidence to believe that her lack of license contributed to the accident… not to mention in a criminal manner. On the other hand, if that were the case, the accident took place while she was violating the law in two ways. At the very least, she should not have been driving because of the license issue. Secondly, she ran through a red light. If the gentleman had been driving, he at the very least, went through a red light.
Such issues are litigated in civil court rooms every day throughout the country. There is an issue of negligence. Clearly, whoever the driver was in this case, there is a strong case against him or her for negligence.
Civil justice, however, no longer is enough for us. In so many cases, our system seeks to punish the person at fault with criminal charges. It is another reason why criminal prosecution is no longer distributed to only those we call “Criminals”. A person could have a stellar history. The person could have no prior blemish on their criminal record and have led an exemplary life. Have a car accident and resulting death and that person is facing being labeled a “criminal”.
But then, perhaps this is not the best case to demonstrate this point.
As mentioned above, whoever the driver turns out to be, according to the Commonwealth, is in trouble. Aside from the civil lawsuit(s), there is going to be a criminal prosecution. Both these people need experienced criminal defense counsel.
By the way, the “gift” of freedom given to Alghazali was likely not simply made out of kindness. Nor, actually, out of a sense of constitutional rights. The fact is, this case may well depend upon statements made by the two defendants. Clearly, the case for lying to the police is. Now that the defendants are not in custody, the police may question the defendants without reading them their rights. They are not in custody and so the statements would not be suppressed.
Only one thing stands in the way
The defense attorney.
If the defendants have experienced counsel, Council will be able to protect them as much as possible. If not, they are prey.
There are other cases, similar to this, which better demonstrate not only the attitude on the part of the Commonwealth when it comes to car accidents, but also it’s rather uneven view of such cases.
“What does that mean?”
Check out my next blog, tomorrow.
For the full story upon which this blog is based, please go to: http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/06/24/driver-back-bay-crash-arraigned-motor-vehicle-homicide-charges/vGKUC1pllei50AoORI4z5H/story.html