The Easiest Way To Lose Your Case – Guaranteed!
The biggest con in the DUI game or the criminal justice game if you will is this: people who are new to the program don’t understand that the state MUST prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt so they “give up” and go into court and plead guilty. Here are three stories (there are hundreds to be sure) that will hopefully get you to “play the game” as it is intended and not just shove your money across the gaming table to the house. You would NEVER think of walking away from the table in Las Vegas if given a stack of “free” chips to play with and you shouldn’t here – you just don’t know that you have the chips.
The Girl Who Gave Up Too Easy: A woman received a DUI and was so depressed that she didn’t ask for her driver’s license hearing and so she lost her license automatically. She then went into court and at the arraignment (where she should have plead Not Guilty) she plead Guilty, even though the case had a very big problem in it. See the same night she was arrested, the cop got into his own little (actually big) DUI which got him thrown off the force. Now – you should ask: “could the state have prosecuted her without that officer?” And the answer is “only if she let them.” Which she did. She then received an IID violation later that year because the court didn’t impose an IID but the computer at the DLD did and she hadn’t been getting her mail since she moved and didn’t update the DLD with her proper address, so she paid that ticket. The next thing she got in the mail was a letter telling her that her driving license had been suspended for a year for the IID violation. DUI LESSON: Never assume you know how the criminal justice system functions just because you believe you are guilty – guilt and punishment are two very different things!
The Guy Who Just Couldn’t Say “No.” Past client falls asleep at the wheel at a stoplight in early morning hours and gets a DUI. I get him a reduced charge of Impaired Driving and sure as hell I read him the riot act about ever getting near a car with alcohol on his breath. He gets a light sentence and probation of course for a year like everyone else, during which time he is not to get in trouble. Well “frailty, thy name is woman” and said woman slept over only to discover in a panic that she was late for work, and our hero in this story is too chivalrous to just hand her the keys, call UBER, or say “take my car”, because he jumps into the car after a night of heavy drinking and guess what, on the way back at 5:00 a.m. he falls asleep at the same light (the Bermuda triangle light) and is stopped by the cop. Well this guy calls me and the first thing he tells me is “you told me so – how screwed am I?” Well.. pretty damn screwed… You are on probation and got a second, so you have the penalty of the first waiting for you (178 days jail suspended) and 10 days mandatory minimum in jail for the second plus, plus plus a license suspension for two years. We go to the DLD hearing and I’ll be damned if the officer says “you know, I was getting off duty at that time, I kind of left it in the hands of the next officer (who thought he had done the SFSTs already), and the officer says “I really don’t know what was done here.” Boom, license saved! We get to court and because of the DLD hearing, the ADA offers a deal we can’t refuse – no jail on either violation (probation violation AND the second DUI!) and the guy has his life back. Now granted, this had a little magic pixy dust in it, but what if the guy had given up and not called me?
The Russian Charmer
If ever there was a lady that made me want to pull the rest of my hair out it was this russian princess who amazingly, while on probation for felony DUI (0-5 in prison hanging over her head) got a FOURTH DUI that had as possible penalties 0-5 in prison and a minimum mandatory of 62.5 days in jail (there is nothing worse in the DUI world than this except possibly a fifth on top of a fourth and that doesn’t happen so often because you are usually already in PRISON!). Well, I did what I usually do in these cases, try to help the person with their obvious alcoholism by sending them to AA and giving them a portable intoxilyzer that they carry around and blow into five times a day to register .000 – proof that they are off of alcohol. AA “took” as we say, she met a group of great people (of which AA is made) and she literally changed her life – she got through the horrible phase and entered the “glow” of sobriety. Her license was a pice of very burnt toast, but that wasn’t a major problem in the case because public transportation suited her fine she lived a mile from work, bu the DA was asking for prison. Now no one thought she really belonged in prison, but at the same time, she certainly deserved the 62.5 in jail that the law prescribed, and at least a month or so for violating probation. But we got lucky here; she charmed the pants off the probation officer, she demonstrated that she was serious about sobriety and never wanted to drink again, she had no other criminal background, and amazingly (and I can’t use that word enough in this case) we put together an agreement where the prosecutor -instead of asking for prison – agreed to go with whatever Adult Probation and Parole recommended (which everyone thought would be at least the mandatory minimum). In any case, the recommendation comes back and says “we’d be ok with her serving 62.5 days in home confinement with leave to go to work, the doctor and AA meetings. And the judge did the right thing – she believed in this client and gave her one last chance which was what I was brought in to do. Now she’s ecstatic and I’m thrilled and the prosecutor is not happy and I understand that, rightfully so as it were, but make no mistake about it – a lot of what influences your case is where it takes place and the prosecutor. The point however of this section was to convince you that it is totally brain dead stupid to just GIVE UP before you have someone who knows the system evaluate your case; don’t forget 1.5% of all cases just miraculously disappear – and if you go in and plead guilty and force them to dig up your lost case, that’s pretty freaking stupid isn’t it?
The Takeaway: Don’t EVER, EVER “play” lawyer and think you somehow understand the system because you KNOW you are actually guilty. REmember Casey Anthony? The chick who killed her daughter, drove around with the little girl in her trunk until it reeked of decomposition, while partying the entire month before she dumped her body? Well, a JURY found her not guilty because they got it into their heads that the State needed to prove how the child was killed. The prosecutor retired from the law, understandably, because he couldn’t believe that a group of people could find her unanimously not guilty when it was obvious she had killed her kid circumstantially. Life is Life. Anything can happen, and you don’t push the odds over to the house, when they have given you a free spin of the wheel of fortune.