As I think I mentioned in my last blog, the holidays can be a stressful time.
A gent from Charlton, a pickup truck driver who we will simply call “Defendant”, is using that as a defense in an upcoming criminal matter.
It is not really much of a defense, but his reaction after he was caught might well get him out of a criminal conviction…although he did not follow my general advice.
Auburn police Detective Sgt. Richard Mills explained to the Boston Herald, “He gave a statement. He said he was having a bad day. He said, ‘I made a mistake. I know I shouldn’t have done it.’ He wants to pay for it”
Sgt. Mills also explained that he is not releasing the Defendant’s name because he has not yet been charged. Instead, the Commonwealth will send the Defendant a summons for a Clerk Magistrate’s Hearing at Worcester District Court.
According to Sgt. Mills, the Defendant’s temporary adversary was driving a luxury electric vehicle, a Tesla. The Tesla had to young children in the car at the time the Defendant smashed the window. Also, nobody was hurt in the incident.
Sgt. Mills has determined that the Defendant had not known about the kids being present.
Apparently, the Tesla’s owner does not live locally and had apparently been using the mall’s Tesla Supercharger station.
According to Sgt. Mills, the incident occurred about 1:15 p.m. on Saturday as both drivers were leaving the mall on Route 12.
The Tesla driver told police that he thought the other driver, who we now know as the Defendant, who was behind the wheel of a Toyota Tacoma, tried to run him off the road.
“They had some disagreement,” Sgt. Mills said. “The [Defendant] followed him to the next set of lights.” Then, the Defendant, who stands over 6 feet tall and weighs more than 250 pounds, is said to have approached the Tesla on foot, yelling. Then, the Defendant lashed out when the Tesla “lurched at him”.
That “lurching” was because of the driver’s nerves and lack of familiarity with the new car.
In any event, it was then, Sgt. Mills said, the Defendant “smashed the window with his hand.”
It was now a full fledged motor vehicle crime. Road Rage!
The Tesla driver took a photo of the pickup as it was leaving the scene. Auburn police posted it on Facebook and tracked the suspect to Charlton, thanks to tips on social media.
And the Defendant was found, identified and questioned.
Sgt. Mills advises us all that “The main takeaway is don’t get angry in traffic, and don’t get out of your car.”
Attorney Sam’s Take On An Exception To The General Rule
The Defendant in this case did everything I generally advise against.
First of all, obviously, bringing about the confrontation and planting your fist into another driver’s window is a pretty bad idea. That’s a given.
However, compounding his bad judgment, the Defendant fled the scene. That is arguably a crime in itself and certainly evidence that can be used against the Defendant at trial.
Given today’s scientific realities…he was, of course, found.
Next, the Defendant followed only part of my general advice. He was apparently calm and regretful. He did not question the officers’ authority.
He did not, however, refuse to speak with the officer until he had an attorney present. In fact, he gave a confession.
It worked out well for him and, probably, he will not face criminal charges. The matter will likely be resolved at the Clerk’s hearing without it going onto his CORI.
“So, Sam…are you going to change your general advice?”
Absolutely not. This case demonstrates that there are officers out there who will look at a situation and, if the suspect seems genuinely to have simply made a mistake he is not likely to repeat, and admits it, then they will give a guy a break.
After all, ‘tis the season and all that.
However, this is the exception; not the rule. The Defendant could have found himself arrested and on his way to an arraignment. In big trouble.
By the way, it is part of why I tell clients to indicate to the officer that, while they would like to give their life story, they have to ask the attorney first and blame any negative decision on the lawyer!
There have been cases where I have advised a client to “come clean”. I am present, though. And I have a certain amount of intuition which only years of experience is going to give you.
I will point out, though, the smartest thing the Defendant did in this case was to go all the way. Had he, instead of completely admitting guilty, tried to tell half-truths or blame the other driver, this result would probably have been the outcome.
My general advice is still the same. However, if you decide to risk it all and make a statement…do not play games!
Games, by the way equals giving false information to an investigating officer which equals the felony of intimidating a witness!