If you were arrested for OUI in East Bridgewater, there should be video of your OUI arrest. the video that the police have will be referred to as a booking video. The East Bridgewater police department does not have a police cruiser camera video. There are a few departments that have cruiser camera, but the majority do not. As an East Bridgewater OUI Lawyer, there was a recent case of interest if a video is lost by the Government.
Police cruisers tare equipped with video recording devices to capture police stops and patrols. When the driver of a vehicle is facing OUI charges, a recording of the stop and arrest may be presented in court by the defendant to challenge the arrest. In such circumstances, the video is considered exculpatory evidence since it may clear the defendant of guilt.
Dismissal Upheld in Recent case where video is lost:
If a police recording of an arrest is known to exist, the defendant should request a copy as it may support the defense. The Supreme Court of Tennessee, in State v. Merriman, recently held that if a police recording of a stop and arrest is lost or missing, the charges may be dismissed.
In State v. Merriman, the defendant was pulled over after veering into the lane on which a police officer was traveling. The officer attempted to conduct field sobriety tests and arrested Ms. Merriman for driving under the influence. During the arrest, Ms. Merriman informed the arresting officer that she had health problems, and had taken Valium and hydrocodone earlier that day. The officer continued the arrest and Ms. Merriman was charged with driving under the influence, reckless endangerment with a motor vehicle, reckless driving, and others.
Before the trial, the arresting officer referenced a video recording of the stop and arrest of Ms. Merriman. When Ms. Merriman’s attorney requested a copy of the video, the State replied that it was unable to locate it. The trial court subsequently dismissed the charges of driving under the influence, reckless endangerment, and reckless driving.
Not only did the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals affirm the judgment, but the Supreme Court of Tennessee – the state’s highest court -upheld the dismissal in a unanimous opinion. Relying on an earlier decision in State v. Ferguson, the Court stated that the defendant is entitled to review any evidence that may exculpate her from the charges against her. The defense attorney argued that the video may have included substance that challenges the legality of the arrest and the credibility of the arresting officer. Therefore, the defense argued that Ms. Merriman’s right to a fair trial would be compromised without an opportunity to review and use the video. Without this evidence, the defendant would be deprived of a fundamentally fair trial.
The Court agreed, holding that the State not only failed in its duty to preserve the video, but that it was negligent in its failure, that the video was highly significant to this arrest, and that the remainder of the evidence was insufficient to support a conviction. Therefore, the charges against Ms. Merriman were correctly dismissed.
The law in Massachusetts is similar to the law upheld by the Tennessee Supreme Court. The Supreme Judicial Court in Commonwealth v. Olszewski, 401 Mass. 749 (1988) devised a similar test to determine whether a defendant may be entitled to a dismissal of criminal charges if police evidence was lost or destroyed. OUI attorneys in East Bridgewater should always seek a copy of any potential exculpatory evidence, and should be prepared to ask that the Court dismiss the charges if that evidence is lost or destroyed.