DWI (Drunk Driving) & Crimes
If you are stopped by the police you should be polite but not overly cooperative. EVERYTHING that you say can and will be used against you. For example, if you are stopped for suspicion of drunk driving the office will always ask you if you have been drinking. If you have, and if you think that you may have had too much to drink , your best response will be, “officer, I respectfully decline to answer that question”. The officer will not be happy, but by that point he has already made up his mind to arrest you anyway. Why give the prosecution more ammunition to use against you?
What Happens In Court?
The first time you appear in court is for the arraignment. At that time the court will inform you of the charges, and ask how you plead. Many people wanting to “get this over with” will plead guilty Even if you are 100% guilty, DO NOT PLEAD GUILTY AT THE ARRAIGNMENT. The court will not be mad at you, if you say “not guilty”, or “I stand mute” which means you do not want to respond. The court will enter a “not guilty” plea for you and set up a pre-trial conference.
To properly prepare for trial and for negotiations, it is important to discover as much information as possible about the case against you. Our office policy is to send a request for an order for discovery and FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUEST to obtain all of the records that the police have, including audio and video tapes, photographs, reports and handwritten notes.
When your attorney has sufficient information about the case against you negotiations will take place at a pre-trial conference. At that time the prosecutor can make an offer to reduce the charges in exchange for a guilty plea. The more your attorney knows about the prosecution case, the easier it is to work out a better deal.
If negotiations are not successful a trial by the judge or with a jury will take place. Defendant’s do not have to testify and the decision as to whether or not you will testify will be up to you and your attorney.
It is very unusual for a first offender to go to jail. If you have prior arrests, jail on weekends or on work release can be worked out. Usually fines, costs and time on the Court’s work program will be imposed. Be prepared to pay at the time of sentencing. Drug and alcohol offenders WILL be placed in treatment programs including AA, counseling and victim impact awareness.