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Tampa, Florida attorney in the MJ Kelly v. Bubba the Love Sponge Case Charged with DUI

Prominent local attorney Charles Phillip Campbell was arrested last night and charged with DUI for the second time. Campbell is currently representing Todd “MJ” Schnitt in a trial that is underway against Todd “Bubba the Love Sponge” Clem alleging defamation of character by the Sponge against MJ and his wife. Bubba the Love Sponge is alleged to have made statements that were false, highly offensive and defamatory in nature thereby causing damage to both Kelly and his wife. Campbell is alleged to have been travelling in his four door gray Nissan when he was observed by a Tampa Police Officer to have allegedly violated the right of way of another vehicle according to an arrest report. When the Officer made contact with Campbell it is further alleged that he witnessed signs of impairment including red and glassy eyes and the distinct odor of alcohol emanating from Campbell’s breath. According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s website, this DUI arrest is not Mr. Campbell’s first rodeo with such an allegation, having previously been arrested on July 14, 2008 and recording a breath test of .153 and .156 respectively. It is unknown from either this report or the report from 2008 who Campbell’s Tampa criminal lawyer was or is currently.

Aside from the sensationalism this trial has already produced, this certainly adds to the appeal. Not only are arguably the two biggest morning DJs in Tampa at each others throats in a courtroom, now there is a very prominent attorney accused of driving under the influence on an evening while a trial of which he is lead counsel is in full swing. You really can’t make this stuff up! In reality, Mr. Campbell could be facing a rather stiff penalty should things not go his way on this allegation. For arguments sake and assuming Campbell pled to the DUI as charged in 2008, he is now facing his second DUI within 5 years. If Campbell ends up having to plea to the DUI charge as alleged for his arrest last night he is facing a statutory minimum mandatory 10 days in the Hillsborough County Jail. For purposes of the minimum mandatory, all that matters is that the second dui “offense” date occur within 5 years of the prior DUI conviction. State v. Daly, 15 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 447 (Fla. 18th Cir. Ct. Feb. 4, 2008)11 Fla. Prac., DUI Handbook § 13:1 (2012-2013 ed.). So, for strategy’s sake, a Tampa criminal lawyer making an effort to hold Mr. Campbell’s plea to DUI (should that be the end result) until after July 14, 2013 won’t be beneficial based on applicable caselaw and the way Florida Statute 316.193(6)(b) is written. If he has in fact been convicted of a prior DUI and his Tampa DUI attorney can negotiate a reduced charge of reckless driving the minimum mandatory won’t apply and he won’t likely face a court imposed driver’s license suspension. Otherwise if he does plea to a second DUI within 5 years of a prior he is looking at the following:

a. Mandatory 10 days in county jail and up to 9 months b. Fine of $1000 to $2000
c. Level 2 DUI school (21 hours)
d. Victim Impact Panel e. 30 day vehicle impound f. Ignition Interlock device at owner’s expense for 1 year g. Driver’s License Revocation of 5 years but he will be eligible for a hardship license after one year.

Conversely, if Campbell was not convicted of a DUI from the 2008 arrest he will face no minimum mandatory jail penalty and will likely receive first time minimums of an Adjudication of Guilt, will be unlikely to receive a jail sentence, receive a fine of between $500 to $1,000, have to complete a 12 hour level 1 DUI school, complete a victim impact panel, perform 50 public service hours, impound his vehicle for 10 days, and will have his driver’s license revoked for 1 year due to his breath test refusal if he pleas to this DUI allegation.

At the end of the day, from what I can tell from his arrest inquiry page on the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s website it appears that he refused a breath test. Generally that’s a good thing unless the person refusing was stone cold sober. Further, in the thousands of DUI arrest reports I’ve seen as both a prosecutor and defense attorney, I can’t think of one that didn’t involve some of the typical boilerplate BS about bloodshot watery eyes, slurred speech, blah, blah, blah. It’s in all of them and it’s not hard to impeach. We have no idea if he did field sobriety exercises and if he did, how he performed. If he refused both field sobriety exercises and the breath test, good luck to the State on convicting him of anything as it’s likely not going to happen. You can’t convict of a crime on sheer speculation and I have doubts that a jury would. Further, his booking photo shows him to be orderly and with nothing that screams “impairment” to me and I’ve seen a bunch of these things. So, let’s not be too hasty to convict Mr. Campbell before he’s had his day in Court. There is a long way to go and often in cases with facts similar to what we know of Mr. Campbell’s the State will offer a reduction or the Defendant can often go to trial and win. Based on what I know from public records outlets and media coverage, I’d say Mr. Campbell has a good shot at avoiding a DUI conviction. Time will tell.

Jason Mayberry is a Federal and State criminal attorney practicing in the Tampa Bay area and its surrounding counties. We’re available for a free consultation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 813-444-7435 or at 727-771-3847.

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