Tuesday, March 19, 2013

More than just a DUI

Have you ever thought about all the consequences of a DUI?  Sure, you've thought you could get pulled over or stopped at a check point and get a DUI, lose your license temporarily, pay a fine and probably not spend any time in jail.  A simple DUI, however, is not the only consequence you could face. 

Let's assume you do get a simple first offense DUI, lose your license, pay your fine and move on with life.  Do you know what happens if you get another DUI?  There could be mandatory jail time, you could get your license revoked, not just suspended and possibly face a felony charge instead of just a misdemeanor.

Aside from simply getting a DUI, have you ever considered how life would change if you were to be involved in an accident, even killed someone?  You would be facing a felony and likely spend 10 - 20 years in prison.  And that would be the least of it.  Not only would you have to sit in prison, you would have to live with the fact that you killed someone, that you changed the lives of everyone who knew that person and everyone who knew you.  Your life, your family's lives, your friend's lives would never be the same.  The victim would not get to see the rest of his/her life, his/her family's lives, friend's lives would never be the same.

So when you make the decision to drive after you've been drinking, remember it's not just a DUI you could be facing but you could be making a decision that will change the rest of your life. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Why you should consult with an attorney on even a minor charge - The trial

So you've prepared for the case to the best of your ability and you are nervously awaiting the date of your trial.  Do you know what to expect?  In general district court it can get pretty chaotic and intimidating.  Do you know how to address the judge?  Do you know what evidence you are allowed to present and when you present it?  How do you know when it's your turn to talk and when it's the prosecutor's time to talk?

An attorney is trained and knows all of these things.  Not only do you have better preparation having prepared with an attorney, the process will go much smoother having someone by your side to explain not only the law, but the process.

Your attorney knows the evidentiary rules and how to present evidence to a judge.  Aside from the actual trial, your attorney knows how to negotiate a plea with the prosecutor, if that the is best route to take, and what is an acceptable plea to take.

Just as importantly, after your trial, your attorney can interpret and explain to you the consequences of the result.  For example, your attorney can give you more details about what it means to be ordered to do community service or your requirements for probation.  This is key in ensuring you do not get in more trouble in the future.  

Monday, March 4, 2013

Why you should consult with an attorney on even a minor charge - Preparing the case

Now that we've talked about understanding the charge and possible collateral consequences, this post will discuss the process of preparing your case for trial and why consulting with an attorney could make a huge difference.  Picture yourself in this scenario: you have been charged with driving under the influence and decide it's no big deal, you can handle this without an attorney.  What would your next step be?

An attorney should always know what the next step is.  It may be that you interview and subpoena witnesses, it may be that you speak with the Commonwealth Attorney, etc.  The process of preparing the case is essential to the outcome of the case.  For example, let's say you have a friend who tells you he'll come to court and testify that you were never actually driving the car.  That sounds great, right?  Do you know how to ensure his presence at trial?  Or are you simply taking his word for it that he'll show up on your trial date? Do you know what questions you can ask that witness on the stand?  Do you know how to prepare that witness for the cross examination he will endure by the prosecution?

There is a lot that goes into preparing for a case even on a minor charge.  It may appear simple.  However, there are a lot of peculiar things that attorneys know and understand that will increase the chances of your success at trial.

Again, many attorneys will offer an initial consultation for a minimal fee.  No matter how small the charge, it is a good idea to consult with an attorney to determine how to best handle the case at hand.