The Defendant and others were attending a party at Chehaw Park. Defendant got into an argument with someone from another group. As Defendant was going to Defendant’s car, Defendant heard gun shots. Everyone jumped into their cars and fled the scene, including Defendant. On the way out of the park, Defendant lost control of the car and hit a fence post. While backing off the post, Defendant backed into another car. Although everyone agreed that someone else fired the gun, the State believed Defendant had something to do with it and so 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 Defendant was a bad guy, they arrested Defendant for the traffic accident and charged Defendant with 2 counts of Criminal Damage to Property in the Second Degree (the post and the car). All total, Defendant was facing 55 years in prison.
During our investigation, we discovered there was no evidence the defendant had anything to do with the shooting other than an argument with one of the victims (clearly not enough to make Defendant 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 produced our witness list to the State (as required), they discovered a witness 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 a 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. On the morning of trial, the State offered a plea to Leaving the Scene of an Accident. Even though we felt confident we could win, because the State would be unable to prove sufficient damages to trigger the threshold for the crime, Defendant took the plea to avoid the risk of trial. However, the potential of 55 years in prison ended up as just 12 months probation, and Defendant went home!