Sunday, October 13, 2013

Robbery Charges Dismissed

My client and two others were charged with armed robbery as well as conspiracy.  The victim claimed that my client held a knife to his throat and the other codefendants used physical violence and assisted in the robbery and stole various items.  The prosecution's initial evidence was the testimony of the victim.  There were no obvious eyewitnesses.  The prosecution began building their case in a rather sophisticated but a more and more normal fashion in today's technological age.  They used the cell phone signals that were supposedly being emitted from the three codefendants cell phones to locate their position at the time of the robbery.  The prosecution concluded that at least two of the cell phones were close in distance and time to where the victim claimed that the robbery occurred.

My client advised that he was not at the scene of the robbery but was rather with his girlfriend 10 miles away.  I began using the tools that were available to me in this case to establish my client's alibi.

I interviewed the girlfriend at length to get an itinerary of what they did that day.  Her recollection of the day was very detailed.  They were quite a distance away.  They used public transportation to get there.  They used an additional shuttle once they were there.  They went to a restaurant and a doughnut shop.  Again in today's technological age it is not difficult to leave an electronic trail.  They used public transportation to get into Washington DC.  I asked her to produce the smart card which would be date stamped as well as timestamped.  When they were on the shuttle bus I asked for camera footage from the shuttle bus.  The shuttle bus did have a camera but it was not running in this particular case.  I asked for receipts from the restaurant as well as the doughnut shop.  I asked the girlfriend to go down and check and see if she could remember the waiter and if the waiter would remember them.  Besides going on the defensive and I went on the offensive.

I hired an investigator to speak with the victim.  It took some doing because the prosecution did not want to give up the identity, address or telephone number of the victim but we were able to find the victim nonetheless.  My investigator is  a young woman and she is extremely disarming.  I have had much success with her getting the statements from victims and I recommend her highly.  She took a statement from the victim which was not consistent with the statement that the victim gave to the police.  She was also able to find out that the victim spoke with either family members or friends.  The statement that the victim gave to these people was different again from the other statements.

I did something also unique in my practice to date in this case.  It's normal for me to contact the attorneys of the codefendants and have a general idea of what is going on in their cases.  In this particular case I created a Google doc so that we could share information and be more efficient with our resources.  For example, I  shared what my investigator found out with the other attorneys.  Through this collaboration I was able to find out that the victim had show off pictures in Facebook and other social media.  In the show off pictures it shows the victim pointing a handgun at the camera, and otherwise mugging with a handgun.  I wasn't sure what to do with his information so we never provided it to the prosecutor.  Nonetheless, it was pretty clear that the victim was an apparent troublemaker.

By the time this case was ready for trial the prosecution began to realize that they had problems with their victim and consequently with their case.  They ultimately dismissed the charges against my client.  As a footnote, I thought this was very ethical of the prosecutor.  In her opinion she found it to be ethically questionable to prosecute the case where her victim gave several diverging stories about how the robbery happened and what was taken.

When you hire an attorney to represent you, it's worth asking what resources are available for your case.  H

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