In numerous consults with clients, I have heard the remark "so I should just plea guilty". This usually comes after I have directly pointed out all the weaknesses in their case. For example;
Client comes in to speak to me about their DUI. They had caused a minor accident, it was 2:00am, the police report states they smelled like alcohol, blood shot watery eyes, slurred speech, couldn't keep their balance and difficulty performing field sobriety tests. In addition, they provided a breath sample over the legal limit.
This sounds like a bad case to take to trial, appears the State may have a very strong case. Unfortunately for some, they are advised to plea guilty in their 1st Appearance court date, the morning after their arrest (This is a horrible idea, NEVER PLEA GUILTY TO DUI IN 1ST APPEARANCE).
Anyways. Even with bad facts and/or accusations, there is still an opportunity to reach a better result. DUI penalties are severe, and for someone with no criminal record, they will now have a conviction that can never be removed. I repeat, A DUI CONVICTION CAN NEVER BE REMOVED. Often times in a DUI, a lawyer will try to get the charged amended to a Reckless Driving.
How Does Getting a Reckless Driving Conviction Benefit You?
First, and most importantly, it is not a DUI. With a Reckless Driving disposition, you are often giving a Withhold of Adjudication (WH). A WH means you are not convicted of the crime and allows you to get your record sealed, along with the police report which often does not paint the client in the best light. Although you may still have to do probation, DUI school, victim impact panel and community service, you will not have a criminal record.
So how can this be done?
Mitigation in a Criminal Case.
Although the State may be able to convict you in trial, they are not always heartless bastards. Mitigation is a way to show the prosecutor who you are and that your obvious mistake was out of character and you have a lot to lose if convicted of a crime.
Mitigation is used in almost every criminal case negotiation, however I'm going to focus on DUI's.
You are nothing more than a name on a piece of paper, the prosecutor does not know you and will certainly take a guilty plea any day of the week. So how can a lawyer help you?
A good lawyer will early and often get in the prosecutors ear about who you are:
- Criminal History
- Future Aspirations
A lawyers job is to paint the picture of who you are present that picture to the prosecutor. Letters from friends, family and employers will often also be provided in order to show your true character. By presenting mitigation to the prosecutor and pushing hard for their client, a lawyer can sometimes take a loser of trial case and still get a good result.
Anyone can get a DUI. All demographics; race, age, religion, economic status, they all get DUI's. I have represented grandmothers, teenagers, bankers, pillars of the community, lawyers, felons and all sorts of very nice people after they were arrested for a DUI. Don't just give in, you have a story and it should be told to the prosecutor and you should be given a chance.
If You Have Questions Regarding a DUI or Any Other Criminal Matter
Please contact Clifton Law Office, you can reach me at my contact page online or call me directly at 904-209-4883.