On 2/18/13, a Fort Pierce police officer arrested Carlos Montoya (not his real name) for allowing an unlicensed person to drive. Carlos is an “undocumented alien” who is trying to gain permanent resident status. A conviction for this charge – even with a “withhold of adjudication” – would be potentially disastrous.
Carlos retained Attorney Garland on 9/20/13, to represent him on the criminal case. Garland immediately identified a “corpus delicti” issue. The person who was driving Carlos’ pickup truck had “gone up the road”. He was “no esta”. Therefore, there would be no witness testifying that Carlos had lent the guy his truck knowing he did not have a license.
The prosecutor was focused on the statement Carlos had made to the officer, who said that Carlos admitted knowing that the guy did not have a license.
Garland filed a motion to exclude Carlos’ out-of-court statements based upon a lack of any independent evidence of the crime, which would be the “corpus delicti”. Without such independent evidence of a crime, Carlos’ statement would not be admissible into evidence. After considering the motion, the prosecutor recognized that the State could not survive a motion for judgment of acquittal. The prosecutor nolle prossed (dropped) the case on 10/1/13. Carlos is free to legalize his immigration status without worrying about the effect of this charge.