There are many commonly held misconceptions when it comes to drunk and drugged driving cases. For instance, many Michigan drivers believe that if the arresting officer does not show up to court or trial, their case will automatically be thrown out. While there is a possibility that the case will be dismissed if the cop fails to appear in court, it is not guaranteed. In fact, the judge’s decision will be based on several factors, not just the presence of the police.
In order for the state to properly establish a case against you, it needs to provide credible witnesses. The number one witness in any impaired driving case is generally going to be the law enforcement officer who arrested you. Therefore, the state relies on the arresting officer to show up and testify. However, the officer is only needed in court for motions where his or her testimony is required and for the trial, if one is held.
For instance, no testimony is heard at your first court appearance, called the arraignment. Therefore, the arresting officer is not required to appear, and the case will not be thrown out if he or she is not present at the arraignment.
Some judges are extremely sympathetic toward law enforcement and will give officers several chances to appear for trial. Other judges are more concerned about the defendant’s right to a speedy trial and will not continue a case simply because the officer failed to appear. Every judge is different and has his or her own particular preferences and rationale.
Another factor many judges will consider is the reason for the officer’s absence. For instance, if the officer missed court due to injury or illness, the judge may be more inclined to give him or her a second chance to appear. On the other hand, if the officer had no good excuse for missing court, the judge may decide to dismiss the case.
There are many good reasons for having an experienced OWI defense attorney by your side when your court date comes. If the arresting officer fails to appear, your attorney can argue for dismissal by pointing out the weaknesses in the state’s case, and a skilled attorney may be able to have the charge reduced or dismissed before the case even goes to trial.