On July 1, 2020 a homeowner in Byfield, MA heard a loud crash outside her home. She went outside and observed an SVU pulling away from a utility pole. The pole was badly damaged. The SUV left the scene. She called the police and they found a number of parts from the SUV at the scene. Over the next few weeks the police did an investigation and they identified the parts as coming from a particular year and make of vehicle. A search of the RMV data base showed such a vehicle registered to JW who lived not far from the accident scene. It took several weeks and when they got to JW’s house they found the SUV – with no damage at all on it. A search of auto repair shops showed that the SUV had been brought in to a particular shop and had had repairs made to it – repairs that were consistent with the accident. A check with JW’s insurance company showed that they had paid for the damages to the SUV. The police went to speak with JW but he said nothing o them – absolutely nothing. He exercised his right to remain silent and would not answer one question. (Smart guy.) The police cited JW with Leaving the Scene and Failing to File a Police Report of an Accident and issued him a citation. JW called Attorney Robert Lewin from Andover. Attorney Lewin advised JW to immediately file the citation at Newburyport District Court and request a Clerk-Magistrate hearing.
JW retained Attorney Robert Lewin. (As it turns out JW had had Attorney Lewin represent him previously in another hit & run case which Attorney Lewin won.) Attorney Lewin immediately identified two problems with the police case against JW.
First: The leaving the scene charge requires the police to prove that JW was driving the car at the time of the accident. From the evidence the police had, the police could establish probable cause that it was JW’s vehicle that was involved in the accident. But that is not enough. They had to prove that JW was driving the vehicle at the time of the accident. There was no evidence of this.