Baltimore readers have probably heard about the case of Episcopalian Bishop Heather Cook, who struck and killed a 41-year-old bicyclist back in December. Readers may also have heard that Cook’s blood alcohol level was almost three times the legal limit at the time of the crash. As of today, a criminal case was initiated against Cook after a grand jury indicted her on 13 charges.
The charges, of course, are quite serious and include manslaughter, hit-and-run, DWI, reckless driving, texting while driving, and various other related charges. Cook will likely be facing the prospect of prison time if she is convicted of these charges. That being said, it remains to be seen how prosecutors will handle the case, particularly whether they will choose to exercise lenience. Even so, things don’t look good for her.
Cook is reportedly scheduled to have her arraignment next month. An arraignment, for those not familiar with the term, is a court appearance in which a defendant is presented with the charges against him or her and enters either a guilty or not guilty plea.
Anybody facing Cook’s situation, of course, does well to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to ensure their rights are protected. Criminal defense, to be clear, is not solely concerned with getting a defendant off the hook. Although having charges thrown out or acquitting the defendant is the goal in some cases, the goal in most cases is more modest, but no less important: protecting defendants’ rights.
In our next post, we’ll pick up on the topic of how an experienced criminal defense attorney can help a defendant to build a strong case by protecting his or her rights.