Criminal charges against Sonic Automotive Inc. CEO David Smith, including felony assault by strangulation, were voluntarily dismissed last week by the Mecklenburg County, N.C., district attorney's office, the court and Smith's lawyer confirmed Monday.
Smith, 46, was arrested Oct. 5 and spent a night in jail after a 22-year-old woman, not related to Smith, told the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department that she was assaulted and restrained at a Charlotte home. She had minor injuries of bruises and scratches, according to the police report.
He was indicted by a Mecklenburg County grand jury this month on the felony charge, plus misdemeanor charges of false imprisonment, assault on a female and interfering with emergency communication. The indictment was a procedural action to move his case forward in the Mecklenburg County Superior Court after Smith had waived a probable-cause hearing Dec.1.
According to Mecklenburg County Superior Court, the district attorney's office on each of the charges it dismissed on Friday wrote: "The state does not have a reasonable likelihood of success of proving each of the elements of this offense beyond a reasonable doubt at trial. After consultation with the victim, the state is taking a voluntary dismissal of this charge."
In the dismissal of the interfering with emergency communication charge, the prosecutor’s office also wrote that the state would have trouble proving that Smith knew the alleged victim was trying to contact emergency personnel.
"We appreciate that the district attorney's office reviewed the entire sequence of events and elected to take the action it determined was appropriate," Smith's lawyer George Laughrun said in a news release. "The outcome confirms Mr. Smith's belief in the justice system, and he is obviously pleased that the charges have been dismissed."
Smith had not been arraigned on the charges and Laughrun earlier told Automotive News that Smith would plead not guilty.
Sonic, the nation's sixth-largest new-vehicle retailer, declined to comment Monday beyond Smith’s lawyer’s statement. But just after Smith's arrest, the company co-founded by Smith's father, Executive Chairman Bruton Smith, issued a statement indicating Sonic's board held "steadfast" support of him and indicated Smith told the board he was innocent of the charges.