*CASE STUDY: Felony Charges Against Teenage Client Dismissed

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By: Bill Henry
PublishedAug 11, 2022
6 minute read

If you’ve never been the driver during a car accident that resulted in injuries, it can be tough to understand what it’s like to process all the emotions such an event evokes. It’s a lot to work through, especially if you’re a young and inexperienced driver. Our client, Scott, was in that very situation back in 2021.

As Scott’s physical injuries healed from his car accident, he sorted out all the particulars that come with being involved in an accident. Then suddenly, six months after the accident, felony charges were filed against him.

Still a teenager, Scott was facing prison time, mandatory parole, and the lifelong limitations that come with a felony conviction. He needed experienced legal help — and fast.

“It’s a hard thing to have these charges … [and the fear of] being labeled a felon for life,” Scott told the R&H Marketing Department.

Scott, which is not his real name, agreed to allow Robinson & Henry to write about and share his experience working with the firm. This case study examines the steps the firm took to get this client’s felony charges dismissed.

In This Case Study:

Get Experienced Criminal Defense When Faced with Felony Charges

If you find yourself in a situation where you’re up against criminal charges, it’s important to work with a seasoned criminal defense attorney. Many of our defense attorneys are former prosecutors, so they have seen both sides of the criminal law coin. When your freedom hangs in the balance, hire an attorney who knows how the justice system works. Call 303-688-0944 to begin your case assessment.

*Past results afford no guarantee of future performance; each matter is different and must be judged on its own merits. Facts are those of an actual Robinson & Henry case. We used a pseudonym for our client. 

Case Background

In the summer of 2021, Scott, then 18 years old, was a brand-new driver. Unlike many teenagers, he was never in a hurry to get his license. Instead, Scott focused on his studies and kicking off his career.

It wasn’t until he needed to find his own way to work that he finally caved and took his driving test.

The Designated Driver Wrecks

Scott has always been a responsible young person, which is why he offered to be the D.D. (designated driver) for his friends who were drinking one night.

As Scott drove his intoxicated friends home from a late-night fast-food run, they became increasingly rowdy. One of the passengers climbed onto the car’s center console and stood out of the sunroof. Another badgered Scott to drive faster. That passenger even grabbed at the steering wheel.

During all of the commotion, Scott missed a sharp curve and crashed — just one month after getting his driver’s license.

All of the teens were checked out at the hospital. One suffered some lacerations, another a broken foot. Scott, too, fracture his foot.

While emergency room staff evaluated Scott, police officers became increasingly aggressive with him. Scott and his parents believed they wanted him to confess to something he did not do.

Scott told officers he was sober. His toxicology results confirmed he was telling the truth.

The police, though, seemed determined to charge Scott with something. At one point, he was informed he was in police custody and going to jail, but later he was told there was no warrant. And Scott eventually left the hospital.

Six Months Later: Scott is Charged

Over the course of the next six months, Scott healed. He focused on work and trying to mend friendships that were strained from the accident.

Then one morning, Scott arrived home after working through the night. His roommate informed him the police had been by looking for him. They had an arrest warrant.

Instead of reaching out to an attorney, Scott called the police station to try to understand what was happening, a move he regrets now.

“As I hang up the phone, the police are there to arrest me,” he said.

Facing Two Felony Charges

Scott was booked into a Colorado county jail on felony charges:  two counts of felony vehicular assault. He was also charged with reckless driving.

“If a person operates or drives a motor vehicle in a reckless manner, and this conduct is the proximate cause of serious bodily injury to another, such person commits vehicular assault.” C.R.S. 18-3-205 (a)

Vehicular assault is a class 5 felony and calls for up to three years in prison, two years of mandatory parole, and/or up to a $100,000 fine. Reckless driving is a class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense.

Scott knew his situation was serious. He had spoken with Robinson & Henry six months earlier about how to handle all the questions from police when he was in the hospital. So, he called his mother from jail.

“Hey, mom. I’m in jail. I need you to call Robinson & Henry right now,” Scott remembered telling her.

It was a holiday when Scott was arrested, but he said he “posted bail thanks to the quick work of Robinson & Henry, and [he] made it out of [jail] by the end of that afternoon.”

The Turning Point to Felony Charges

So, what happened during the six months that led prosecutors to suddenly charge Scott? One of the passengers who was in the car the night of the crash filed for restitution. The passenger’s victim impact statement prompted the district attorney to pursue felony charges.

This passenger not only wanted restitution, but they indicated they wanted Scott to go to prison.

Scott was assigned Robinson & Henry Attorney Katy Kinney, a former criminal prosecutor. Katy said the district attorney had a weak case.

“They barely had enough,” Katy said. “They said he was going too fast … but [police] did not do a major crash workup to find out how fast [Scott] was going … they assumed he was going fast.”

Robinson & Henry Develops a Strong Defense

Investigative Efforts

Robinson & Henry Attorney Katy Kinney immediately got to work on Scott’s case. She requested all of the police body camera footage from the crash site and at the hospital. Katy also had a third passenger interviewed for their take on what happened in the moments leading up to the accident.

That interview revealed some important information:  the passenger who was pressing the district attorney to go after Scott had contributed to the cause of the crash by grabbing at the steering wheel.

Countering the Prosecutor’s Plea Deal

Attorney Katy Kinney also carefully considered how she and Scott would respond to the D. A.’s plea deal offer. Katy wanted to ensure that if Scott accepted a plea deal there would be no room for him to face a civil lawsuit down the road.

“The potential civil liability was big in this case,” Katy said.

Because Robinson & Henry is a full-service law firm, Katy was able to turn to a group of experienced civil litigation attorneys to sort out the civil liability side of this complex case.

Scott was amazed at this collaboration, “That kind of quality of work doesn’t get better than that.”

All the while, Katy prepped for trial. She and her team began to put together a mitigation packet with many letters of support from Scott’s family and friends. It also included screenshots of aggressive messages to Scott from the passenger seeking restitution.

A Major Revelation

As Scott’s case progressed, Katy made a game-changing discovery:  the passenger seeking restitution never filed a claim with their own insurance company. That made it appear the passenger may have been trying to play the system — get restitution out of Scott and receive an insurance payout.

The passenger’s insurance company also stated it would not file a civil claim against Scott.

This new information combined with the details that came out of Katy’s investigation into the case solidified Scott’s defense. Katy informed the D. A. what she planned to present at trial.

“The D. A. didn’t have a lot of good options,” Katy said. “They didn’t have a lot of evidence to be successful at trial or for a restitution hearing.”

The prosecution agreed, and it ultimately dismissed the charges.

In addition to getting the charges dropped, Katy facilitated the process to have Scott’s arrest records sealed.

A Sigh of Relief

One can only imagine the weight that lifted from Scott’s shoulders when the district attorney’s office dismissed all of the charges against him.

“A lot of pieces had to come together,” Scott smiled.

He credits Katy’s understanding of the inner workings of the local D. A.’s office as the edge his case needed.

“She knows how this type of crime goes down and what kinds of little things to look for to ensure the entire case doesn’t unravel,” he said.

Parting Words

From Attorney Katy Kinney

As we noted, R&H Attorney Katy Kinney is a former prosecutor. In fact, Katy worked in the D. A.’s office that charged Scott. Now primarily practicing family law at Robinson & Henry, Katy recommends individuals who are charged with a vehicular case to try to hire a former prosecutor to defend them.

“If … you have a [former] D. A. working on your case it’s really helpful. Make sure your attorney has experience with this type of case in that D. A.’s office. They’ll know what to look for,” she said.

Katy also recommends being very careful when discussing the details of your case with others, even friends, and especially those who may have been involved in the accident.

“Anything you say could turn into a witness tampering charge,” she said. “Really talk to an attorney about how to manage relationships while a case is pending.”

From R&H Client Scott

When asked what advice he would give others who may be in a similar situation as he was, Scott said to invoke your right to remain silent.

“Don’t talk to the police. Don’t give statements. Call R&H — always first,” he said. “An attorney will know better [than you] and will be able to give you a chance for a better case.”

Hire a Strong Criminal Defense Attorney 

The criminal defense attorneys at Robinson & Henry are former prosecutors and public defenders who understand how the criminal justice system works. If you’re up against felony charges, you need a strong criminal defense team. Call 303-688-0944 to begin your case assessment.

*Past results afford no guarantee of future results; each matter is different and must be judged on its own merits. Facts are those of an actual Robinson & Henry litigation case. We used a pseudonym for our client.

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