In any criminal matter, the prosecution bears the burden of proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, each element of the underlying offense. Thus, if the government cannot establish the corpus delecti or body of the crime, it should not be able to obtain a conviction. An Illinois appellate court recently discussed the concept of corpus delecti in a case in which it reversed the defendant’s DUI conviction. If you are faced with charges, you committed a DUI crime, it is important to speak to a Illinois DUI defense lawyer to evaluate what evidence the state must produce to prove your guilt.
The Facts of the Case
Reportedly, the police were dispatched to a courtyard in response to a report of a domestic disturbance. Upon arrival, they found the defendant and two men standing near a car. The defendant indicated she had an argument with her boyfriend and was trying to locate him. She advised the police that she drove the white car to its current location in hopes of finding her boyfriend and then called the police.
Allegedly, when the police spoke with the defendant, they noticed she smelled of alcohol, her eyes were bloodshot, and her speech was slurred. Thus, they administered field sobriety tests. Based on the defendant’s performance on the tests, they arrested her and charged her with DUI. The trial court found her guilty, and she appealed, arguing that the prosecution failed to offer proof of corpus delecti.
Corpus Delecti in DUI Cases
Corpus delecti of a crime is the commission of the offense. In criminal matters, the prosecution must offer proof beyond a reasonable doubt of two things: the corpus delecti, or that a crime was committed, and the identity of the person that committed the crime. Under Illinois law, the State typically cannot establish the corpus delecti solely through the defendant’s confession, admission, or out-of-court statement but must also provide independent corroborating evidence.
The independent corroborating evidence does not have to be identical to the defendant’s confession and only needs to prove, in general, that an offense was committed. In other words, some connection between the admission and the independent evidence is required to strengthen and confirm the defendant’s admission. Evidence that tends to connect the defendant with the offense will be deemed sufficient to verify that a crime was committed. Evidence that is simply consistent with a confession, though, is insufficient if it does not prove the commission of a crime. In the subject case, the appellate court found that there was no evidence other than the defendant’s admission that suggested she was guilty of DUI. Thus, the appellate court vacated her conviction.
Confer with a Seasoned Illinois DUI Attorney
In Illinois DUI cases, the State must prove that the defendant committed the charged offense, and if it cannot, the defendant should be found not guilty. If you are accused of a DUI crime it is advisable to confer with an attorney about your options for seeking a favorable result. Theodore J. Harvatin, of the Harvatin Law Offices, PC, is a seasoned Illinois DUI defense lawyer who can assess the circumstances surrounding your arrest and advise you of your potential defenses. You can contact Mr. Harvatin by calling 217.525.0520 or through the online form to schedule a meeting.