UTAH DUI Process 104 – Sentencing
Beware Different Judges And Courts!
Despite the fact that many of Utah’s DUI laws carry mandatory jail sentences, you must know that each court and each judge function differently. Some for instance, like Holladay/ Cottonwood Heights, always require two days in the Salt Lake County Jail, which is no picnic – but rather a maximum security, full lockdown, huge, 1000 person cement-walled jail with no windows. We’re not trying to scare you, but if you have never been in jail before, this is NOT a good first experience.
Other judges hardly ever give jail on the first DUI, but remember that if this is your second DUI you shouldn’t go near a court without first speaking with a competent Utah DUI lawyer. Listen to what David Brickey, Summit County Prosecutor said about facing a DUI without a lawyer: “you wouldn’t let your kid near an operating table without a doctor, [and you don’t face a criminal charge without a defense attorney].”
I have personally seen people on their second DUI sent to jail for six (6) months on a second DUI, in both Salt Lake City and Davis County. DO NOT make the penultimate mistake of thinking that because you are a good person that you will be sentenced on that basis. Strictly speaking, the court could care less about what you have or haven’t done in your life – when you have driven while drinking, you are presumed to be a “Bad” person and the second time, there is a mandatory ten (10) days that the judge must give you, unless a defense attorney has mitigated the charge and bargained for reduced time.
You Don’t Know The Rules So Don’t Play The Game
Too many people make the rookie mistake of thinking they can just”get this behind them,” and try to handle the case themselves. You don’t know the rules of the game; you don’t know the court rules, the prosecuting rules, the case law, or even the rules of probable cause. You don’t know how to appeal the case to district court, how to motion the court for a continuance, or how to demand discovery that might actually help your case. What you don’t know can hurt you.
The Sobering Story Of R.R.
Beware a client story. A client called R.R. had received their first DUI in 2006 and while on probation, they had received another, their second. While I was negotiating two weeks in jail and counseling and treatment, R.R., who was struggling with mental issues as well, talked with an acquaintance of theirs who was a prosecutor in another area, and that prosecutor told R.R. that they would be better off just going in and throwing themselves on the mercy of the court. The only problem was that this prosecutor did not know what court we were even in, and the history of that court with dealing with DUI’s. especially seconds received while on probation. This judge had a habit of sending these people to jail for six months to receive drug and alcohol treatment; and needless to say, R.R. ended up getting six months, which of course, R.R. had the absolute right to appeal to district court while released from jail, and in each case I had worked on, this had resulted in a vastly decreased sentence, as long as proper mitigation was done with mental health professionals. And so, because R.R. didn’t know and didn’t take the time to find out, they sat in a cement cell for six months, which further, and understandably, aggravated their mental condition – as it would anyone’s.
If You Don’t Understand Something – Don’t Bet Your Freedom . . .
You DO NOT understand sentencing. And you do not understand your right to an appeal if your case is in justice court first, a right which is constitutional in nature and must be granted. Every week we get calls from frantic mothers and wives, and sometimes husbands, who can’t understand why their love is in jail or how they can get them out – and most of the time, by that point, you can’t.It is no surprise that most people with a higher education hire an attorney, because in a sense, they realize what they do not know and what they are not an expert at. Conversely, people who attempt to represent themselves, termed “pro se” in legal jargon, by and large have no idea how disadvantaged they are because they simply do not take the time to properly assess the situation. No one would operate on themselves, yet too many people represent themselves, perhaps because they believe the system will be fair and objective. While that may be, the lack of understanding of the rules is akin to trying to play rugby or any other sport without any knowledge of the rules of the game. You will get creamed; even in a nice court. In a court where the judge has little patience (understandably) with pro se defendants, trying to litigate your case will result in embarrassment, humiliation, and sometimes court costs.
If You Don’t Understand The Game – Don’t Play Alone . . .
It would be stupid to try to play a game without any knowledge of the rules, or serious time spent watching it, yet a surprising number of people show up for their day in court without having spent any time watching the court in action, fueled by the idea that their cause is righteous and noble; two ideals which have no place in litigating a case. Understanding the court rules and procedure, especially the discovery rules, is your responsibility and neither the court nor prosecutor will help you proceed. Use a Utah DUI defense specialist to properly assess your case, even if you can’t afford one – this can help in objectively assessing your chances, instead of putting yourself out there and getting creamed. You are facing 180 days, or six months in jail for a first offense, and make no mistake about it; there are people who end up ticking off the court so much so, that they get a sentence surprisingly close to that by not understanding court rules, especially regarding probation.
Most people believe that because they are “good people” and have never done anything wrong, that the judge will listen to their “tale of woe” and excuses for why they shouldn’t be punished, and somehow that their case will warrant serious attention from the prosecutor and the court. Listen; the ONLY thing that counts in a court of law, is how much “power” you project and how much of a threat you are to the prosecutor: without an attorney, they know that you are NOT going to try a case in front of a jury, and losing is the only thing a prosecutor cares about; they don’t care about you, your past, or your reasons for committing a crime. You may care, they don’t. This is very much a pay to play game, and if you don’t have skilled Utah DUI Defense Attorney, you pose no threat to the prosecutor alone. Period.2015_dui_sentencing_matrix