Call Us: 202-630-0939

Sailor Escapes DWI Conviction, Now Faces Perjury Charges

by | Jul 23, 2013

A Navy sailor successfully eluded a conviction on a misdemeanor charge of driving while intoxicated, only to now be faced with a charge of felony perjury.

Our D.C. DUI defense lawyers know that this case illustrates why having a solid attorney is so critical. A good attorney will never advise you to lie under oath because we know full well that the consequences could be much worse for this than the original crime.

In most cases, it’s not necessary to concoct a story in order to have the charges reduced or dismissed, especially if you are a first-time offender. Be upfront with your attorney about what happened, and there’s a good chance we may be able to work with the facts at hand to, at the very least, wrangle some less serious penalties.

The reality is, there is no such thing as a perfect DUI arrest. The burden of proof is on the police and prosecutors, so one minor slip-up, and their case could be shot. Of course, you may not even realize that opportunity exists in your case until you have a defense lawyer closely analyze the facts.

We suspect this individual, being in the Navy, felt he had a great deal to lose with a DUI conviction and therefore took his chances with a story that may not have been entirely truthful. However, lying to police or prosecutors is almost never a good idea because, as this case shows, the results of getting caught could be worse than simply a conviction.

This was a case that unfolded out of New York City. The petty officer first class was caught by police sitting in his running vehicle while his blood-alcohol level was above the legal limit. Normally, this might be enough to secure a conviction. However, both he and a fellow Navy officer revealed to the jury that he had merely been in his vehicle charging his phone. He insisted that his friend, who was not in the vehicle but rather inside the night club at the time he was stopped, was in fact the designated driver. His friend backed this version of events.

This story was effective in that the jury found him not guilty of driving while intoxicated, a misdemeanor. Prosecutors would have had to show that the sailor had at the very least intended to drive the vehicle. If he was only charging his cell phone and he had a designated driver, the intent argument is out the window.

But now, both the sailor and his friend are facing eight felony perjury charges, as prosecutors say that the pair were not even together that night.

The attorney now representing the sailor says that his client received “terrible, terrible (legal) advice and followed it.” He added that he is doing all he can now to rectify the situation.

While not expounding on what that advice was, we can infer that the sailor was instructed to lie. This, indeed, is terrible legal advice. The prosecutors’ indictment puts the attorney as the coordinator of the false testimony, but it doesn’t absolve the sailor or his friend of responsibility.

The lawyer has not been charged at this point, though it is entirely possible that he could face both criminal and professional sanctions.

The sailor has plead not guilty. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted. His acquittal on the DWI offense means he can’t be retried, regardless of what evidence has since come to light. He would have faced up to a year in jail on that charge.

His case is not helped by the fact that he is accused of flashing a phony police badge to a subway attendant in order to gain free access to the subway. When an actual police officer approached him, he reportedly sprayed him with pepper spray in order to get away. In that case, he faces charges of assault and impersonating an officer.

If you are facing DUI charges in D.C., contact the Scrofano Law, PC at 202-765-3175.