This article will be about how I really help my Clients not get pounded in a Detroit-area DUI or Criminal case. Sometimes, tired and old worn-out phrases can really get on your nerves and become meaningless to the point that you roll your eyes when you hear them. Around election time last year, when the TV was filled with political ads, I heard enough baloney to the point that I was nauseated. Every politician wanted to protect me, my family, and my rights, even though I’d never heard of them before and haven’t heard a thing from them since. I can only wonder what they’re doing right now to help protect me…
The same thing, I’m afraid, holds true when Lawyer’s talk about “protecting your rights.” That’s not to say most Lawyers don’t actually do that, or at least try to, but the fact of the matter is, if you are facing a DUI or Suspended License or Marijuana case (or any other Criminal charge, for that matter), and you wind up getting hammered with all kinds of classes and counseling and testing and everything else, you won’t feel that you had been very “protected.”
The first thing to do here is to sort out the difference between protecting your rights and protecting you. “Protecting your rights” is pretty much just a slogan. Think about your rights for a moment. No one is out to steal them. Once in a while the Police act in a way that violates certain of your rights, but by time you ever call a Lawyer about it, it’s too late. Consider the right against unlawful search and seizure. Assume the Police conducted an illegal search of Dan the Driver’s vehicle and found marijuana. Dan gets charged with a DUI and Possession of Marijuana. He hires Larry the Lawyer to defend him. Both Dan and Larry are angry over the violation of Dan’s rights…
Big whoop. Unless Larry can turn back the hands of time, there is no way to “protect” Dan’s rights; they’ve already been violated. Of course, Larry can challenge the admissibility of the evidence, and protect Dan from being convicted as a result of an unlawful search and seizure, but in terms of protecting Dan’s rights, it’s too late for that.
My point is that it becomes my job to protect my Client. Instead of talking about “rights,” we should be talking about “interests.” A person can wind up pleading straight up guilty to a charge of Operating While Intoxicated (OWI, or what is commonly called a DUI), and can get slammed with Probation from Hell all the while having some Lawyer make sure none of their rights were violated. Can you imagine a Lawyer, when it comes time to address the Court at Sentencing, saying to the Judge “Your Honor, I am here to make sure that none of my Client’s rights are violated”? What could be more meaningless than that?
It’s far more important to address the Judge and make sure I get every break in the book for my Client. I need to make every part of the Sentence as easy and lenient as possible. Success in any case is generally measured by what happens to you, and, in the same sense, by what doesn’t. Keeping my Client’s out of Jail is part of protecting their interests, but it doesn’t stop there.
Most people have an immediate sense of what their interests are, but my job is to also take into account and protect long term interests that a Client might not be aware of, or which they overlook in the short term. Thus, while a person might be so happy to know that they won’t be going to Jail for a DUI, they might overlook, at least until it’s too late, that a Probationary requirement that they drive with an ignition interlock unit on their vehicle means they cannot drive a work truck.
This very situation occurred the day before this writing. The Probation Department in Sterling Heights recommended that my 1st Offense DUI Client be required, as a condition of his Probation, to only drive a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock unit because his breath test (BAC) was rather high. My Client drives a vehicle for his employer, so that would have been the end of his job. I made sure that didn’t happen. By arguing against that, I was protecting my Client’s interests; his “rights” weren’t involved.
Keeping you out of Jail is important, but once I’ve squared that away, I have to look to minimize the other consequences that could be piled on. Keeping Probation to a shorter term with fewer conditions becomes the focus; avoiding it altogether, if possible, is part of that. Making sure you don’t lose the ability to drive, or that your car isn’t immobilized, or that you don’t wind up losing your job because Probation is just too demanding is what I do to protect your interest.
The point to all this is a theme I have repeated again and again: My job is to make things better. That means getting you out of a DUI charge that can be beat, or beating the consequences of one that’s good enough to stick. It means avoiding as much of the classes and counseling and community service and education and testing stuff as possible. But none of this has anything to do with “protecting your rights.” To resort to a worn out slogan like that misses the whole point of what it means to defend someone from a DUI or Criminal charge. Rights are great, but in the final analysis, protecting your interests matter every bit as much, if not more.