Prosecutors’ Errors Helped Us Succeed
We went above and beyond to achieve a favorable outcome on our client’s behalf, and secured a victory as a result. A Pennsylvania Superior court judge voided our client’s conviction because they disagreed with a county judge’s decision to accept prosecutorial evidence that violated our client’s legal rights. Now, our client is getting a new trial thanks to two police errors: No consent and search warrant.
What’s the story? Let’s examine this criminal case.
A York County court convicted our client, Akim Jones-Williams, of the following charges in 2014:
- homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence
- homicide by vehicle
- child endangerment
- aggravated assault by vehicle while DUI
- aggravated assault by vehicle
- reckless endangerment
- careless driving
Our client was driving with his late fiancée and young daughter when his vehicle was struck by a freight train, killing his fiancée and injuring his daughter. The evidence concluded that Jones-Williams was driving under the influence of marijuana.
To convince the jury that this factor did not cause the accident, Attorney Shawn Dorward argued that our client’s THC levels were low and not enough to impair him. Instead, Dorward stated that our client did not see the train until right before the crash.
But what afforded out client a new trial was not that he tested positive for marijuana, it was the circumstances in which he was tested for marijuana.
Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right
After the crash, law enforcement went to the hospital where our client was being treated. Falling in and out of consciousness, our client was not in the proper headspace to consent to a blood draw and test.
However, since the hospital already drew his blood, police requested the blood sample to be tested for drugs and alcohol without Jones-Williams’ consent and a search warrant.
Absent these two key factors, the York County judge should not have allowed prosecutors to present this evidence, according to Superior Court Judge Judith Ference Olson. The county judge ruled that “exigent circumstances” permitted the warrantless blood sample, however, Olson decided that our client’s Fourth Amendment right prohibiting a warrantless search and seizure was violated, and “ … statutorily implied consent cannot take the place of voluntary consent.”
As a result, Akim Jones-Williams cannot be convicted of every charge. When prosecutors appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Attorney Shawn Dorward will get another chance to defend our client’s rights and work to get his charges further reduced or dropped altogether.
The Dorward Law Firm is serious about dedicating every resource and defense strategy needed to overcome criminal charges. We don’t settle for less than superior legal counsel. If you’re facing accusations in Harrisburg, contact (717) 429-0411 for a free consultation to learn how we can help you.