As you may have heard in the news lately, former New England Patriot and NFL player Brandon Spikes’ Mercedes was involved in an accident on I-495 in Foxboro, Massachusetts last week. According to the Massachusetts State Police, Spikes’ Mercedes was allegedly speeding when it crashed into the rear of a SUV. The Mercedes was located further along the road in the early morning hours after the vehicle’s roadside assistance indicated that the driver reported hitting a deer.
The driver who spoke with roadside assistance was apparently not identified; and none was in the vehicle when it was located. The New England Patriots then released Brandon Spikes later that day.
Massachusetts State Police report they will now summons the former New England Patriot into Wrentham District Court and charge him with several criminal motor vehicle violations, including Leaving the Scene of an Accident Resulting in Personal Injury and Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle. But do they even have a case?
Based on the information reported from the media, there is no indication that Mr. Spikes ever admitted to having been the operator of the vehicle at the time of the accident. Sure it was his car, but that isn’t enough. The prosecutor must still prove that he was the operator at the time.
In order to convict someone of leaving the scene of an accident causing personal injury, the prosecutor must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, all of the following elements (1) the defendant operated the vehicle; (2) on a public way; (3) collided with or cause injury in some way to another person; (4) that he knew he had collided with or caused injury to another person; and (5) that after such collision, he did not stop and make known his name, address and registration number of his vehicle.
Without any evidence that Brandon Spikes was the operator of the vehicle at the time, there is simply no case against case against him. It’s not enough that it was his vehicle that was involved in the accident and later abandoned. Although to many people it would appear logical to say “well, it was his car, who else would be driving it”, the law does not permit conviction on mere speculation or probabilities. There must be some evidence proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he was the operator.
Quite frankly, unless there is additional evidence that hasn’t been reported, the case shouldn’t even go to trial – it should be dismissed prior to trial for lack of probable cause…