Can A Tennessee DUI Case Be Dismissed If the Police Lose The Video ?

One of the critical pieces of evidence in any Nashville DUI case is the arrest video tape. Surprisingly , few Metro Nashville police cars have video dash cams. In Williamson County , Tennessee almost all  police cars have video dash cams. The Tennessee Supreme Court recently issued a ruling on lost video tapes.

In some DUI cases , the arrest video is lost or destroyed for various reasons. For years the courts struggled on how to deal with a lost video tape. In some cases , the court gives a Ferguson charge which allows the jury to infer that the lost video may be favorable to the accused.

In State of Tennessee v. Merryman , Judge Stanley in McMinnville , Tennessee dismissed  a DUI charge based upon the loss of the arrest video. The Tennessee Supreme Court upheld the dismissal of the DUI charge. The court found that dismissal of the DUI charge was an appropriate remedy due to the fact the defendant may be denied her right to a fair trial.

Here is the framework for a successful motion to dismiss. One needs to prove the Ferguson factors. The first factor is the degree of negligence in the state's failure to preserve  the video recording. Second , the court must examine the significance of the destroyed evidence in light of the probative value and reliability of the remaining or secondary evidence.Finally , the court must consider the sufficiency of the remaining evidence used at trial to support the convictions.

Merryman is important because now the courts have the power to dismiss cases if their is a loss or destruction of evidence .

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