People often think of DUI charges as arising out of direct evidence that a person operated a vehicle while intoxicated, but in many instances, the prosecution’s evidence is solely circumstantial. While circumstantial evidence is sufficient to convict a person for a crime, a conviction that rests solely on information from the defendant, like an admission, is improper pursuant to the corpus delicti rule. In a recent opinion, a Pennsylvania court explained the corpus delicti rule and its implication in DUI cases. If you are accused of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, it is advisable to speak with an experienced Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney as soon as possible to evaluate your options.
The Defendant’s Arrest
Allegedly, the police responded to reports of a two-car accident. When they arrived at the scene, all of the parties involved had exited their vehicles. The police spoke with the defendant’s friend, who smelled of alcohol and was unsteady on his feet. Per the arresting officer, the defendant’s friend was extremely intoxicated and would not have been able to operate a vehicle in his condition.
It is reported that the officer spoke with the defendant as well, who stated that he was driving at the time of the accident due to his friend’s intoxication. The defendant also smelled like alcohol, had bloodshot eyes, and was slurring his speech. The officer asked him to submit to field sobriety and breath tests, and he declined. He was charged with and convicted of DUI, after which he appealed. Continue reading