Client acquitted of damaging utility pole, driving while suspended
Criminal defense attorney Roger Priest recently won "not guilty" verdicts for a client charged with hit and run unattended and driving while suspended.
The allegations were that Priest's client struck a Clark Public Utilities pole while driving on a suspended license and then fled the scene without reporting the accident to police or informing the property owner of the damage.
After a one-day trial on Sept. 30 in Clark County District Court, a jury acquitted the client on both charges.
Priest argued that the prosecution failed to prove his client was the individual driving the vehicle, because he was not found at the scene and the chain of evidence connecting him to the incident was too weak to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that police had the right guy.
Additionally, Priest argued that the prosecution failed to prove that the accident was not properly reported. The prosecutor could have called a Clark PUD employee to the witness stand to testify whether any report was made about the incident, but didn't.
After hearing the evidence and arguments, the six jurors deliberated the rest of the day and then were ordered to go home for the night. They returned the next morning and deliberated 30 additional minutes before unanimously agreeing that Priest's client was not guilty.
The hit and run unattended charge was of particular interest in the trial, because the law is unclear on what it requires of a person who accidentally damages property. The statute does not clearly say whether a person must file a police report in every instance, so it can leave some unwitting people open to criminal prosecution.