Justin Bieber’s Miami DUI case, according to TMZ’s understanding of it, has already seen a plea deal offered by Miami prosecutors and promptly rejected by the teen superstar and his legal team.
Now it’s gung-ho to a “High Noon” trial.
This will be news to Ed Griffith, spokesman for the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office, who told CNN Tuesday.
Inherent in that statement is the logic that if a DUI plea deal hasn’t been offered to Bieber, it also hasn’t been rejected.
To put it mildly, after the high water mark of the Atlanta protest hoax, TMZ’s report claiming Bieber was offered a plea deal and rejected it is unacceptable misreporting — not to mention a waste of everyone’s time.
It’s the same kind of license that has seen some outlets claim Bieber is a “Sizzurp addict” when absolutely no opiates — the drug family Codeine belongs to — were evidenced in the singer’s DUI toxicology report.
The report was based on a urine test conducted at Miami Beach Police Station shortly after Bieber’s pre-dawn January 23 arrest, which revealed the active ingredient in marijuana and anti-anxiety drug Xanax were present in his system at that time.
It’s one thing for the cycle to loop its usual inanity about Bieber, Selena Gomez and others in entertainment stories. It’s quite another if that same irresponsibility is tolerated throughout a possible DUI criminal trial with serious consequences.
In CNN’s report, attorney Michael Salnick mused reasons why Bieber’s lawyers might reject a plea deal and opt for a jury trial for driving under the influence, resisting arrest, and driving with an expired license – to which the singer pleaded not guilty last month.
He explained the Roy Black-led defense team could focus on case discrepancies like the probable cause for the police stop.
Readings for GPS tracking installed in Bieber’s rented, yellow Lamborghini suggests he and pal co-arrestee Khalil Sharieff’s red Ferrari were traveling at 27 mph, rather than the 55-60 mph one of the arresting officers said he witnessed them going at before the stop.
Salnick told CNN, “if a judge lets a jury hear that,” it could create reasonable doubt about the alleged drag racing premise.
Regarding probable cause for Bieber’s field sobriety test, one of the arresting officers said he smelled alcohol on the 19-year-old’s breath. Yet Breathalyzer results revealed negligible blood alcohol concentrations below Florida’s legal limit for under 21 drivers.
Challenges in court on these could be successful if that same arresting officer’s disciplinary record — which allegedly reveals repeated misconduct — is allowed to be used to challenge his credibility.
Another reason for going to trial is Florida’s no-risk policy in DUI cases. In other words — if Bieber were found guilty of DUI at trial, a judge would not sentence him any differently than under a plea deal agreement. It’s reported the benefits of a plea deal could be a reduction of the charge on record from DUI to reckless driving.
However, requirements for random drug tests are the same in a plea deal as they would be if convicted in a trial, says Salnick. The only way to avoid probation and drug testing altogether is for Bieber to be acquitted at trial.
This may be unlikely given the toxicology results and a statement by Officer Dionne in police documents that Bieber admitted,”Yeah, we were smoking all night at the studio,” when told he “reeked of marijuana” in a patrol car journey to Miami Beach police station.
(Photo: Still from “Wait For A Minute” featurette)
Prosecutor’s spokesman Griffith reeled off terms of Florida’s DUI diversion program which is available to all first-time offenders.
These are: random drug testing for between six to nine months, around $1,000 in fines and fees, completion of 40 hours of community service, an alcohol education class, and a three-hour victim impact session where 11 experiences are shared by relatives and a quiz is taken by the defendant in which a score of 100 percent is mandatory.
The sword of damocles jail threat trumpeted by TMZ is highly unlikely Salnick says, adding Bieber would not face jail if convicted at trial unless he violated his probation such as failing a drug test. There was no mention of the ignition interlock device.
A previously scheduled March 3 trial date has been canceled by presiding Judge William Altfield while he continues to review jail videos of Justin considered exempt by his lawyers, such as footage of him urinating for a drug test and other semi-clad content.
The rest of the footage is being released by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office today per a public records request by news media organizations, according to the Miami Herald.
Judge Altfield is due to announce a decision on the fate of the still sealed footage at a March 4 hearing. CNN reports a “sounding” hearing will be held with prosecutors and the defense to discuss preparations for a trial.
This doesn’t preclude the possibility that a plea deal agreement may yet be reached between Bieber’s lawyers and Miami prosecutors.