FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — A Forsyth County woman is considering legal action against the county after she says she was wrongfully jailed because of a medical condition.
Elena Byvalkvich told Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik she was serving probation for a previous DUI arrest in the county, and as part of that probation she had to submit to periodic urine tests to ensure she was staying clean.
“They wanted to do a program or one year of jail,” she said. “Of course I choose to be in the program.”
Byvalkvich and her attorney told Petchenik she has a kidney ailment that could skew the results.
“Unfortunately, her kidneys can malfunction and cause her to provide a sample that is considered diluted by the courts, but it’s totally out of her control,” said attorney Jason McLendon.
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After she provided several diluted samples, McLendon said the solicitor’s office ordered her arrested.
“When I spoke with the prosecutor he essentially said I don’t care and she has to stay in custody,” McLendon said.
Byvalkvich’s nurse practitioner told Petchenik he provided ample medical documentation to prove she had the kidney problem.
“They absolutely ignored it, didn’t take into consideration my request,” said Gene Cucuta. “Whatever the doctor says doesn’t matter, whatever the lawyer says doesn’t matter. This is scary.”
McLendon’s client spent a week behind bars before he was able to convince the solicitor to let her out.
“It’s totally unfair to me to send me to the jail for no reason,” said Byvalkvich.
McLendon said he was eventually able to convince solicitor-general William Finch to release her from jail.
“She didn’t do anything wrong and Elena had to spend a week in jail. She lost her job. She had three children at home so the oldest had to take care of the whole household,” he said. “All of this could have been avoided had they listened to reason and logic on the front end.”
Petchenik reached out to Finch for a response, and Finch e-mailed back this statement:
“Because our accountability court is a treatment court, I won’t be able to discuss the specifics of her case with you. Generally speaking, those who enter the Forsyth County DUI Court have legislatively mandated jail & fines suspended in exchange for treatment. Our sanction matrix is based upon best practices as established by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals and the National Center for DWI Courts.”
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