Every day while in court I meet with clients, prosecutors, judges, argue law and motions, question witnesses, and perform many other legal duties. I also have the opportunity to see other Defendants, some with attorneys and some without, attempt to do the same thing. Unfortunately I see far too many individuals (and even more unfortunate their attorneys) enter pleas to Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs. I call it unfortunate because DUI’s are some of the most complex criminal charges an individual can be charged with, they are more complex than many felony cases; yet contrary to what seems to be popular belief a DUI can be beat.
DUI’s often involve a hearing (that requires a request by the Defendant) at the Driver License Division of your state and potential loss of the driving privilege even before stepping into court. A DUI often times involves a minimum mandatory jail sentence upon conviction. Another problem with a DUI is the alcohol restriction placed on the driver after a conviction. Which means while driving the individual cannot any amount of alcohol in his system. A further requirement could be an ignition interlock device, which means the driver must have a device installed on the vehicle which requires an alcohol free breath test before the vehicle will start. Most states and certainly Utah have a 10 year enhancement upon conviciton of a DUI. Meaning that a 3rd DUI within 10 years can be charged as a felony. The penalties for DUI conviction can linger for years. Not to mention the fines, attorney fees, restrictions on driving, and how a DUI might affect employment.
DUI penalties can be far more severe than many felony convictions. Which is why when I see individuals plea to a DUI without a good lawyer and often times without a lawyer altogether, I cringe. My practice has been moving into the realm of truly fighting the DUI. Many if not most DUI’s can be beat through careful analysis of a client’s case, suppresson hearings, and at trial. My experience is that few criminal attorneys in Utah truly fight the DUI. Many settle for the DWI, which is mostly a DUI with a different name. It takes skill, patience, perseverence, and knowledge to truly fight and win a DUI case.
Every year DUI laws nationwide and certainly in Utah get more and more severe. If you get a DUI or know someone that has one DO NOT go it alone, DO NOT hire the cheapest attorney you can find, get a lawyer that will really fight for you. Get an attorney that can get it dismissed, and if he cannot get it dismissed at least know he is really fighting to win your case. DUI’s are serious and complex, don’t settle for an attorney that doesn’t know what he is doing, don’t make me cringe when I see you in court, your DUI can be beat!
Good luck with your fight.
Posted in DUI/Impaired Driving | Tagged arrest, beat my DUI, criminal defense, driver license, DUI, DUI lawyer, DWI, fight, jail, Utah | 2 Comments »
“How can you defend someone you know is guilty?” Certainly that is the number one asked question I get asked and I would bet its the most asked question of all Defense Attorneys throughout the country. The truth is that guilt or innocence is not relevant to representation.
In the United States we have protections that were put in place by our Founding Fathers. The protections are to insure we don’t get taken over, trampled on, abused, violated, (etc), by our government (this would include anyone working for the city, county, or state where you reside, or the federal government). It is a beautiful thing the Bill of Rights and our Constitution. I often use the analogy that if an individual commits a crime and everyone in the world saw the person do it, that person still has a Constitutional right to have a trial. She is still to be presumed innocent until the government proves them guilty and guilty beyond a reasonable doubt (if the government can). Even if everyone knows the individual did it and the prosecutor has not proven it to the required degree, then the Defendant must be found not guilty.
A Defense Attorney is in many ways a police officer of the Constitution (The highest law). We hold to the Constitution and require all government employees (usually just police, prosecutors, and judges.) to adhere to that law. Defense Attorneys often times get a bad wrap for defending those society assumes are already guilty. But we must not forget about this framework and that is the foundation of our country. Defense Attorneys are the one group that fight for it and us every day.
So go home (or click the links) and give yourself a Constitutional refresher, shake a Defense Attorney’s hand (or give them a hug), and when you see someone being arrested instead of presuming they are guilty (I do it sometimes too), try presuming they are innocent and think for once, Why are those cops hassling that poor guy, I hope they don’t violate OUR Constitutional Rights.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged attorney, constitutional rights, criminal law, defense attorney, innocent, rights | 2 Comments »
Last week the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion Arizona v. Gant. This case drastically changes the way police officers nationwide will be able to conduct a search when arresting an individual on a traffic violation.
Over the past 28 years when an individual has been arrested while driving a vehicle, the police have been able to lawfully search the inside of the car for officer safety reasons, even when there is no risk of the arrestee getting a weapon or destroying evidence. This rule has been known as a search incident to arrest (SIA). If someone is arrested and in a car then arresting officers could search the “grab area” of the car (the entire passenger area of the car). This SIA doctrine allowed police to make simple arrests for minor traffic violations and then search the vehicle if they had a hunch there might be drugs or other illegal evidence in a car. This has been a police officer’s favorite way to justify what really is an illegal search and for many years.
The new opinion overruled the SIA doctrine. The Court stated that “Police may search a vehicle incident to a recent occupant’s arrest only if the arrestee is within reaching distance of the passenger compartment at the time of the search or it is reasonable to believe the vehicle contains evidence of the offense of arrest.” The Court reasoned that 28 years of the old rule has ended up as an authorization to conduct unconstitutional searches. The Court also stated evidence in the passenger compartment is “rarely” within an area that the arrestee could reach.
For those of us interested in preserving our Constitutional Rights this is a landmark decision. There are ways police can get around this rule but it will make searching a car a bit more difficult when arrested for a minor violation.
Posted in Search & Seizure | Tagged arrest, criminal law, drugs, DUI, hunch, illegal search, search, vehicle | Leave a Comment »
I am amazed with number of clients who have fallen into the web of deceit spun by law enforcement officers questioning them about suspected criminal activity and fall prey to the “charm” of the officer when he opines that cooperation will result in favorable treatment. While in some cases, mostly minor matters, that may be true, if you are being questioned about say a sexual abuse of a child, homicide, aggravated robbery, etc., you are not going to gain many points or favors by confessing. What you will likely do is provide the prosecuting authorities with evidence they may not yet have and since any statements you make are most often admissible in court, the rope they need to hang you. Advice: If you are being questioned about anything of consequence, politely indicate that you are willing and anxious to talk with the officer, but would like to talk to a lawyer first.
The concept of confession is good for the soul in the criminal law arena is equivalent to those other famous great lies: I’m from the government and I’m here to help; It’s only a cold sore; the checks is in the mail; and I will respect you in the morning.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged arrest, criminal law, Miranda rights, Police confession | 2 Comments »