Everyone charged with a crime is entitled to legal representation in the United States. That much is universal. After that, laws can differ significantly and confusingly between states. They also vary depending on whether a person was in a car, boat, plane, or using industrial machinery while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or medicine that caused impairment. There are assorted rules governing severity of punishment. DUI, however, is a criminal offense in each case.
Two Types of Crime
Of course, there are many ways to break the law and numerous criminal charges brought against Americans daily. Some are misdemeanors — lesser charges with somewhat tame consequences. Jail time is unlikely in these instances and expensive to the state. Felonies are more serious because the results of one’s actions have a greater impact. Many convicted felons spend years in jail. The severity of penalties also relates to how many times a person has been brought before a court of law for the same reason: drinking or taking drugs while operating a vehicle of some kind.
Two Types of Lawyers
The state will appoint a prosecutor whose job is to make his or her case against an individual who was caught drunk driving, driving while impaired, driving under the influence of drugs, operating machinery while impaired, or however the charge is phrased.
Defendants are represented by either a state-appointed defense lawyer or a DUI attorney. This attorney could be a criminal defense lawyer, generally, or a DUI expert, specifically.
Differences between State-appointed and Private
When a state appoints this defense lawyer, the primary interest is availability; that is, who is around to take this case. The defendant has very little say in how this selection process transpires. If this person feels the lawyer is biased or fails to do any work in the defendant’s favor, it’s possible to ask for a replacement. A state defense attorney is a trained individual, perhaps with experience but sometimes relatively new to the job. This person handles all kinds of cases including assault, rape, theft, and murder. Few such lawyers operate within a niche, but certain issues are not dealt with by an appointed lawyer such as civil cases.
A defendant with means or with a family who has money enough to hire a private lawyer will often take this route. Hiring privately enables the defendant and family to choose someone with experience, a person who has handled many related cases, and an individual with an excellent record of seeing cases dismissed or sentencing reduced. There is no guarantee a lawyer will take the potential client’s case, though. A legal professional working privately has to believe there is a good chance of succeeding. A reputation is at stake.
How to Hire a DUI Defense Lawyer
Pick someone who works within your state. This is important as laws and penalties are not exactly the same across the United States. Everyone knows what DUI is, but how one found “guilty” in a court of law pays the price in California differs from the finer points of DUI law in Arizona. There are even many names applied to the charge which all mean the same thing.
Select a professional whose record is reassuring. He or she regularly reduces charges, reduces penalties, or even has charges dropped based on a number of technical factors. This individual keeps many cases out of court but, when a court is a necessity, his or her clients frequently pay a far lower price than anticipated. They spend no time in jail, for example.
Factors That Work in a Defendant’s Favor
Firstly, the law states that a person is innocent until proven guilty, so any doubt that a case has been approached in this way could see a trial overturned if it did, in fact, come to something as dramatic as a trial. Most related cases are handled swiftly and without publicity. They involve anonymous individuals who were caught weaving or driving too slowly when they decided to drive home after a party. Nothing newsworthy happened.
If no one is hurt and no property is damaged, this could work in the defendant’s favor. First-time offenses are shown some leniency, but the court usually wishes to make some kind of point which reinforces the seriousness of a defendant’s choice, so he or she will have to take driving lessons or pay a fine. In rare instances, the individual is innocent, and technology is to blame. Usually, however, alcohol, drugs, and even medication were consumed before one got behind the controls of a car, plane, or excavator. A defense lawyer hopes to mitigate the damage. This is an intense and serious situation to be in. For something a little less serious, check out our other post on quotes for something a little lighter.