On the eve of trial the prosecutor reduced the DUI to a Reckless Driving charge.
Ellen has a doctorate degree and works in a professional setting. She was terrified her licensing board would suspend her professional license and a conviction would damage her reputation in the community – things she had spent years working for.
Ellen R. was meeting up with a friend at Flanigans in Davie for a fun night out not knowing that it would turn out to be a night she wished she stayed in. As the night began at the restaurant, Ellen’s friend introduced her to a man she knew. Ellen, allowing the night take its course, had a conversation with him over food and drinks. After hours went by, Ellen decided to call it a night and tried to look for her friend who she came to meet but could not find her. After countless calls and text message later with no response, Ellen’s new friend offered to drive her car to his place where she can rest because Ellen expressed she had too much to drink and was uncomfortable to drive to her house in Delray. Ellen took the offer, and they both headed back to his place.
Ellen’s intention was to rest and nothing more but unfortunately that goal for the night was not mutual. At his house, their situation escalated from harmless flirting to more which made Ellen extremely uncomfortable. Suddenly, this man was on top of Ellen trying to have sex with her against her will. Still in the mental state of “flight or fight” Ellen began to drive. Next thing she knew, flashing red lights were behind her initiating her to stop her vehicle. While she was in this state of panic, Ellen had no idea she was driving on the wrong side of the road for the last 8 blocks.
Officer approached the vehicle, and asked her to get out of the car. Ellen was cooperative and did what the officer asked. Immediately, Ellen began to repeat to the officers, “I’m not a bad person” and “I want to go home”. In the beginning of Ellen’s interaction with the officer, she let him know that something “astronomical” happened to her. Her speech was accelerated and emotions high with a constant state of being on the brink to cry.
The officers asked Ellen to do some Field Sobriety Exercises to observe her state and see if she was under the influence. Ellen agreed to do them after some arguing with the officer conducting the investigation of her sobriety. As Ellen did the requested exercises, she was distraught and could not focus on the confusing details that the officer asked her to do. She failed all the exercises.
After conducting all the exercises, Ellen was placed under arrest for DUI. Ellen later admits to us that she was raped years ago in another state. She reported the incident to the police and they didn’t believe her. It was because of her previous experience with the Police not believing her that she didn’t tell them what happened this time. Ever since the horrific situation that occurred to her in the past, Ellen has had to go through therapy to cope with her emotional and mental distress.
The police agency that arrested Ellen had body worn cameras that were included in the discovery of the case. As we watched Ellen do the Field Sobriety Exercises, we could tell she didn’t look drunk, but rather, flustered and terrified. She had the “deer in the headlights” look to her.
The video with the addition of Ellen opening up to us about her past, lead to the hiring of an Rape Trauma expert witnesses. Our expert witness conducted a thorough psychological analysis of Ellen and reviewed the body worn cameras.
An expert witness can be a great aid to a case and add substance for your defense. A deposition, which is an interview of an individual under oath, was scheduled with the State Attorney’s office to have the expert witness testify to the State that Ellen qualifies to have the symptoms of Post Traumatic Rape Syndrome the night of her arrest and suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In the deposition, it was stated that the symptoms of Post Traumatic Rape Syndrome mimic symptoms of being under the influence. This deposition clarified all the distraught and emotional distress Ellen expressed while conducting the exercises and speaking to the officers on scene.
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