Criminal Defense Questions & Answers
Should I Just Plead Guilty to DUI?
NO!!! I cannot tell you how many people I represent on a second or multiple DUI who just pled guilty to their first DUI. Either they thought it was only a weekend in jail, or they paid a small fee to a young lawyer who told them to plead guilty at the first court date, or they thought their case was hopeless so they pled guilty. Then when they come back on a second DUI years later the judge and DA look at them very differently because they've already been convicted of DUI in the past. And now they are facing a 45 day mandatory jail sentence for a second DUI. This is quite a big stick that the DA's have, and they know it. To a person with a family and a successful career, 45 days in jail might as well be a lengthy prison sentence because they will lose everything.
While we certainly can and do fight multiple DUI's, the best way to avoid this predicament is to fight the first DUI as hard as possible. Without a blood or breath result, it can be very difficult for the DA's to prove that you were impaired. Even with a blood or breath result, there are other ways to fight the case. For example, if the police lose the video of your traffic stop then the judge is authorized to dismiss your case entirely. There is no such thing as a hopeless case, and many people plead guilty before they've reviewed any of the evidence against them.
There are many tools in an experienced criminal lawyer's toolbox to fight and win cases. I know the consequences that a DUI conviction has on someone's life, which is why I fight so hard in each and every case to try to avoid a DUI conviction. If you find yourself charged with a DUI or other criminal offense, please do not hesitate to contact me.
What Should I Wear to Court?
I get this question a lot, especially from first offenders (or first wrongfully accused) who have never been to court before. I tell people to dress nice but not so nice that you feel uncomfortable. I've seen some pretty ridiculous outfits over the years on people who are trying too hard to impress the judge and the DA. That bright white tuxedo that you wore as best man in a wedding ten years and twenty pounds ago? Well it may be the nicest outfit you own, but you probably shouldn't wear it to court.
Some of my clients are very comfortable in a suit and tie and some are not. That's fine. I wasn't comfortable in a suit and tie until I interned with the DA's office and later became an Assistant DA myself and had to be in court every day. Some of my clients show up in work clothes because they have to go straight to work after court, and that's fine too. Whatever the circumstances, I think dress nice but not so nice that you feel uncomfortable is good advice to follow.
Isn't Your Job Easy?
I was at a party recently and someone told me that my job was easy. He said "I get a DUI, I pay you, and then you get it reduced or dismissed right? That's easy." Well I wish it were that easy. What people don't see is the hours of investigation, legal research, and negotiation that goes into getting charges reduced or dismissed. And frankly if anybody could do it, I probably would have gone out of business years ago.
Now I have never once had a client complain to me about getting their charges dismissed at the first court date. But the point remains that it's common to think what someone else does is easy. I sometimes consult with business lawyers who find themselves involved in a criminal or other litigation matter for the first time. It reminds me how foreign the court system is to other people and even to other lawyers. They are clueless about how the court system actually works, while to me it is second nature.
If your business is involved in a merger and acquisition or a public stock offering, then I'm probably not your guy (although I know lawyers who are great at that stuff). But if you are charged with a DUI or other criminal offense in Middle Tennessee, then that's right in my wheelhouse. It's what I've done day in and day out for the past several years and continue to do on a daily basis. My greatest compliment is when I do my job so well that I make it look easy.
How do I know if I need a lawyer?
Obtaining experienced legal representation can often mean the difference between a moderate and a severe sentence. Depending on the severity of your crime, you may think you can either represent yourself, or simply accept the public defender the court can appoint to you. For mild crimes, such as traffic violations, these options will not likely put your future at risk, since the process is fairly straightforward. However, for violent crimes, drug crimes, DUIs, and other more serious convictions, attempts to represent yourself can lead to drastically different results than if you had sought out professional legal counsel. As your lawyer, I give you access to my years of experience, my legal training, and my passion for a strong defense. It is unlikely that you would regret obtaining legal counsel; however, the chances are high that you would regret going without.
At what point should I get a lawyer?
From the moment of your arrest, your rights are at stake. You often face booking and an initial hearing, as well as bail posting and notice of your arraignment. Each step requires you to make decisions, voice opinions, and sometimes even tell your story. It is wise to request the presence of a lawyer before you begin to answer any questions the law enforcement may ask you. From the very beginning, your legal counsel acts as your advisor, confidant, and advocate. Your lawyer's job is to protect your rights through every proceeding and to immediately begin building you a strong defense.
What are my Miranda Rights?
These are the rights that an arresting officer must inform you of when you are detained. Most importantly, it is the right to remain silent. If you were not informed of your Miranda Rights upon your arrest, the officer officially violated your constitutional rights. This doesn't mean that you are not guilty, though. It means that we have the opportunity to get any evidence or statements made removed from the trial in a court of law. This can significantly help your case.