MM, a 28-year-old single mom (and holder of three jobs) was cited for leaving the scene of an accident. Here is what happened – driving on the highway, at night, in an unfamiliar area, and looking for the correct exit, she merged to the right lane. As she did so, she collided with another car – side to side impact. Panicking and scared, she did not pull over. She continued driving. Moments later she was stopped by a state trooper. MM apologized, admitted fault, and explained that she was lost, nervous, and panicky. She also admitted to being a bad driver. The trooper accepted her version of the events, but was legally obligated to issue a citation. MM filled out the citation within the 4-day time period and requested a clerk magistrate’s hearing at the local District Court.
MM hired Henry Fasoldt to represent her. They discussed MM’s case. They prepared for the hearing by reviewing MM’s criminal record (or lack thereof), her admission to the accident, the fact that the other driver had been reimbursed for the damage, and, perhaps most importantly, the negative impact that a criminal charge would have on her ability to get a new job and to continue to volunteer at her daughter’s school. They decided to approach the hearing “mea culpa,” and ask that the clerk exercise his discretion and not issue the complaint.
At the hearing Henry highlighted that MM admitted responsibility, felt remorse, and that the other driver had been reimbursed by MM’s insurance company. Henry also explained the negative impact that this would have on her future. The clerk struggled with whether to issue the complaint; he was concerned that MM would not be properly punished for fleeing, which he considered a major transgression. After a lengthy discussion about many topics, mainly MM’s career goals and other personal (medical) issues, the clerk agreed to continue the hearing for 6 months. The complaint will be dismissed if MM stays out of trouble for that time period.