On Wednesday April 3, Macomb County prosecutors were successful in winning a technical legal ruling with the state Court of Appeals regarding a fatal accident in which the driver of the vehicle allegedly had THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in his body. Prosecutors hope this will help strengthen their case against 21-year-old Timothy Wilds, who is charged with operating a vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance or while under the influence of any amount of a controlled substance, two theories which are considered 15-year felonies.
Brittany Nowicki, an 18-year-old Macomb Township woman, died when Wilds lost control of his Jeep while attempting to pass a vehicle on Plumbrook Road in snowy weather conditions. The Sterling Heights accident took place on December 10 of 2010 at approximate 6 a.m.. According to a news article at the Oakland Press, Nowicki was not wearing a seat belt; she died later at an area hospital after being ejected through the windshield of the Jeep during the crash.
Blood tests revealed that Wilds had two nanograms per milliliter, a minute amount, of THC in his system. THC is the primary ingredient in marijuana.
Prosecutors wanted the Michigan Court of Appeals to change the language used by the judge in instructing the jurors. Instead of the jury being told that prosecutors must only prove that the defendant “voluntarily decided to drive knowing that he had any amount of THC in his body,” the appeals court agreed that the judge would instruct that it must be proven that Wilds “voluntarily decided to drive after knowingly ingesting marijuana.”
While prosecutors won this technical legal ruling, the appeals court disagreed with another request by prosecutors, which was to add the language “The prosecution does not have the burden of proving that the defendant knew or should have known that he had the presence of THC within his body.” However, the Court of Appeals ruling does note that should the defense try to argue that the defendant did not believe his ability to drive would be affected by the marijuana, the language could be used.
Wilds’ defense attorney, James Maceroni, objected to Macomb Circuit Judge Edward Servitto’s refusal to allow a one-year misdemeanor option, moving violation causing death, to the jury. He attempted to appeal the judge’s decision in this matter, but the COA refused to address it.
Seasoned Michigan criminal appeals lawyers know that as in this case, it is sometimes necessary to appeal certain language used or other aspects of a criminal case in the process of trying to protect the client. Legal jargon is often difficult for the average person to understand; however an experienced attorney knows that these seemingly minor changes can make a huge difference in the outcome.
If you have been wrongly convicted of a crime, do not wait. Contact a skilled Michigan criminal appeals attorney today.