When someone is charged with a crime such as DUI, many attorneys view the process as black or white. In other words, their client will either be found innocent or guilty. There may be a plea agreement of some type, but the outcome is set and defined by the law. If the client is found guilty, there is nothing more for the lawyer to do and the client must serve the sentence. This perspective ignores the needs of the client and potential options available when a skilled defense attorney approaches sentencing from a creative perspective.
Know the Client
Expert defense attorneys will start by learning all they can about their client. In
addition to prior criminal charges, or lack thereof, many factors can impact the type of sentence flexibility which may be available, including:
- What is the client’s job, including their responsibilities and work hours?
- Do they have custody responsibilities which will be negatively impacted by serving jail time?
- Do they have an immigration status which will be negatively impacted by serving jail time?
- Other issues or situations which are important to the client.
Knowing these factors can allow an attorney to draft a sentencing agreement that can protect a client’s job and more.
Challenge the Facts
The first thing a defense attorney should do is challenge the facts of the case. For example:
- Did the law enforcement officer read the client his/her rights?
- Were the elements of the charge accurate to the facts surrounding the arrest?
- Are there mitigating circumstances or defenses present?
If law enforcement handled the arrest appropriately, the charges are accurate and there is no reasonable defense many attorneys will work to reduce the sentence, but few have the knowledge and experience to take additional steps to best represent their client.
Creative Sentencing Solutions
Depending on the charges the prosecutor may consider jail time, especially if this is the defendant’s second offense. If this client is sentenced to jail, he or she may lose their job. An expert defense attorney will contact the jail, prosecutor and judge and draft an order which will allow the client to remain employed. If all the parties agree, the client can serve his/her sentence in a way that will protect their job.
In this situation, a person who has a typical 9 to 5 job will work Monday through Friday will report to the jail on Friday night to serve their sentence. They are released again on Sunday and return to work on Monday. This process continues until the entire length of the sentence has been served.
For people who have varied hours or on call responsibilities, agreements can be drafted where they report to the jail on their days off and released to work as scheduled. In these situations, there is often a requirement that the sentence be served within a specific timeframe. These situations are not easy for the client but it allows them the opportunity to keep their job and their reputations.
When your job, reputation, family or immigration status is at stake you need legal representation that can address the criminal charges as well as protect the things that matter to you. There are creative sentencing solutions available but few attorneys have the experience needed to structure these options for their clients. Hire a certified criminal defense attorney who can provide you the best representation possible.