A Lowndes county case involving VGCSA was dismissed after we showed that the codefendant was the one that committed the crime.
The Defendant and others were attending a party at Chehaw Park. He got into an argument with someone from another group. As he was going to his car, he heard gun shots. Everyone jumped into their cars and fled the scene, including the Defendant. On the way out of the park, he lost control of his car and hit a fence post. While backing off the post, he backed into another car. Although everyone agrees someone else fired the gun, the State believed the Defendant had something to do with it and so he was arrested for 2 counts of Aggravated Assault (2 guys got shot) and one count of Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony. Then, since the State already believed he was a bad guy, they arrested him for the traffic accident and charged him with 2 counts of Criminal Damage to Property in the Second Degree (the post and the car). All total, he was facing 55 years in prison. During our investigation, we discovered that there was no evidence the Defendant had anything to do with the shooting other than his argument with one of the victims (clearly no enough to make him a party to the shooting). Thus, we felt confident on going to trial. However, to top it off, we also discovered that the shooting took place just yards inside the Lee County line, which meant Dougherty County could not convict anyone of the shooting. When we gave our witness list to the State (as required), they discovered our witness who would prove where the county line was. On the eve of trial, the State dismissed the 2 Aggravated Assault charges and the Possession of a Firearm charge. That left us with the traffic accident. We obtained a video from a security camera that clearly showed that the Defendant lost control of his car and hit the post. We felt the State could not prove intent. Additionally, the video showed that the driver of the car lied about how the accident happened and what the damages were. She was just trying to get prior damage to her car fixed by saying the Defendant did it. So the State would also be unable to prove sufficient damages to trigger the threshold in the crime. On the morning of trial, the State offered a plea to Leaving the Scene of an Accident (which he did). Even though we felt confident we could win, he took the plea to avoid the risk of trial. However, he went from a potential 55 years in prison to 12 months probation and went home a happy man!