By and large the focus of attack when confronting an impaired driving prosecution will be centered upon issues bearing upon case evidence. Thankfully, it is not often the case to focus upon safety issues thrust upon those suspected of criminal offenses through the means of an automobile stop.
Some time back, the Hamilton County community was shocked to learn of the criminal extortion of hispanic motorists by one particular officer threatening manufactured traffic or even criminal violations unless demanded monies were paid. In this specific case the community was well served with the ultimate prosecution of the officer in question. However, for many defense lawyers such as myself, incidents like these have always given rise to significant questioning as to the extent of such police practices both within Hamilton County as well as throughout the state.
It may be a sensational news story to learn of the acts of misconduct of a particular traffic cop who gets caught. The broader more underlying issue is the extent to which such police misconduct is perpetuated without public attention or notice. Cloaked with the presumption of credibility within a local community, police officers possess an inherent ability to cause irreparable damage to public confidence when their misdeeds go unaccounted for.
As stated above, the most common means by which defense attorneys are in position to hold officers to account is through the discrediting of their law enforcement stops. Over time, should enough police stops and arrests be discredited, both the respective prosecuting attorney’s office as well as supervising police agency will have serious questions as to the continued employ of a given officer. Thankfully, it is most notably police practice that is questioned toward securing a criminal conviction and not the criminal conviction of the arresting officer themselves.
However, recent events in Ft. Wayne bear noting as those that touch upon the regrettable reality that in some instances those suspected of drunk driving must take great care to not only safeguard their future liberty but their safety as well.
This past week a police officer serving the Ft. Wayne community and empowered to conduct traffic stops was convicted of rape. Not only was this officer convicted of rape but the facts of the case are such that this supposed officer of the law admitted to committing this sexual offense following the arrest of a woman for drunk driving.
Apparently seizing upon the opportunity to prey upon the woman who had registered a high intoxication level following a blood draw at a local hospital, this officer took it upon himself to take her to a local park following her hospital observation whereupon he committed the rape convicted of. Again the question bears repeating as to how many such occurrences take place nationwide where officers of the law are enabled to take advantage of those allegedly impaired through the use of drugs or alcohol.
The combination of societal trust extended towards those entrusted to protect and serve, countered with the disdain to which many in the public direct toward those accused of impaired driving leads too many officers to become tempted at stretching the truth of a given impaired driving investigation. In extreme instances that temptation has lead to the commission of crimes against those they will assert are not to be believed.
Understand the dangers lurking toward those who may become the target of some in law enforcement who may seek to use one’s alleged impairment to discredit any version of events they may later put forward. Whether involved within a criminal prosecution or the victim of a crime during the course of a traffic stop, it is incumbent upon everyone to take note of potential dangers and use all social media and other mobile devices at their disposal to alert loved ones and/or trusted legal counsel as to their whereabouts at the first sign of police investigation.