Friday, July 26, 2013


It is difficult to describe an OWI-Homicide case as having a successful outcome. After all, an innocent person has died and that fact will never change, regardless of what happens in the end. In addition to the loss of a victim's life, these tragic cases often involve the destruction of the alleged perpetrator's. Since 99% of these cases end with a prison sentence (usually a long one) families can be torn apart for years and careers can be devastated. The tragedy of the typical outcome in these cases is exacerbated when the person facing such a serious charge is widely regarded as a good, caring and responsible person...with no prior record. That certainly described our client, CPS. Although only 23, CPS was held in high esteem by everyone who knew him. Hard-working, responsible and very involved in his local church, few would have predicted that CPS would ever find himself staring down a homicide charge that could send him to prison for the next 15 years. After the initial shock of this unthinkable reality wore off, CPS and his family knew they would have to find a lawyer up to the challenge of saving his life. Not knowing who to call, they turned to their business attorney for a recommendation. His advice was simple: "You need to call Dennis Melowski."

Dennis has significant experience with these charges over the years and they are always difficult. One of the many difficulties is the fact that public perception of such a charge often clouds legitimate defenses that may exist. And in this case, CPS had a legitimate defense: was the accident unavoidable? Knowing how critical quick action is in these cases, Dennis immediately dispatched his accident reconstruction expert to the scene of the accident, laying the groundwork for what would ultimately be one of the keys to CPS's defense. As it turns out, the cyclist whom CPS struck was riding down a rural county highway on a foggy, rainy night. Visibility was poor. And although two eyewitnesses claim they saw a flashing light on the bike, no light was ever recovered from the bike or the vicinity. A serious question began to arise as to whether any motorist traveling that same stretch of highway in those conditions would have seen the cyclist with enough time to take evasive action. This fact, combined with some other investigative deficiencies in the case, led to a phenomenal resolution of CPS's case just one week before his week-long jury trial was scheduled to begin. The original charge of OWI-Homicide was amended to Second-Degree Reckless Homicide (which carries no license revocation) and the prosecutor agreed to just a 90-day county jail sentence with work-release privileges, along with 3 years of probation. Recognizing the legitimate factual issues that existed in the case, along with CPS's impeccable character and sincere remorse, the experienced judge approved the sentence. Not only was CPS spared a prison sentence, he was able to keep his job at the family business. And while CPS and his family will mourne the loss of the victim's life forever, the sense of relief they feel with the outcome of this case cannot be imagined.

Media accounts of the result in this case can be read here: