Articles Posted in DUI

In part 2 of this article, we looked at the early court phases of a Michigan 3rd offense DUI case. We noted that in most instances (there are exceptions, like when a person is injured in an accident) things begin with arrest, and that the formal court process starts at the arraignment stage. We saw that the 2 main purposes of arraignment in a 3rd offense drunk driving case are to set the bond amount, and the bond conditions, which will always include an order to refrain from the use of alcohol, and to impose a testing schedule to ensure that the person complies. noted that the arraignment is followed by the scheduling of a probable cause conference (PCC), along with a preliminary exam (PE). The end result of the PCC is either a plea bargain, a decision to actually hold the preliminary examination, or, in most cases, the choice to waive it and have the matter bound over, meaning sent “up” to the circuit court for further proceedings. Unless a case is pled out or dismissed in the district court, the next step thereafter is what’s called a circuit court arraignment, which is largely a repeat of the district court arraignment. Although the circuit Judge can, they usually don’t make any changes to the bond at this stage.

After the circuit court arraignment, the case will then be scheduled for a pre-trial. In essence, a pre-trail is any meeting after the arraignment, but before a trial, between the prosecutor and the defense lawyer to discuss the case. There are usually several (and sometimes, a lot) of pre-trials. This is where the key issues of the case are discussed, and plea and sentence bargains negotiated. In the real world, the vast majority of DUI cases, including 3rd offense DUI cases, are resolved through negotiations at the pre-trial stage.

In part 1 of this article about 3rd offense DUI charges in Michigan, we began by acknowledging the central importance of the evidence, and then, after reviewing the actual OWI law, boiled the relevant parts down into plain English. From there, we briefly looked at the potential driver’s license penalties. Here, in this 2nd part, we’ll see that, while the court process for 3rd offense DUI cases is similar to both 1st and 2nd offense cases, there are some significant differences, as well, beginning at the very first step – the arraignment:

Judge-2-300x293ARRAIGNMENT. At some point, either before, or after a person’s release from jail (after often happens when there has been a blood draw), he or she will be arraigned by either a Judge or a Magistrate. At an arraignment, a person is informed of the exact charge or charges against him or her, the maximum legal penalty that can be imposed for each, and is then apprised of his or her constitutional right, including the right to remain silent and the right to a lawyer By far, the most important purposes of this first hearing is for a bond to be set, and the conditions of that bond to be established.

As far as the money part of bond is concerned, if a person has already posted some to get out of jail, most courts will consider that amount adequate, and let it stand. Usually, the biggest issue to be resolved at arraignment for a 3rd offense DUI are the conditions of bond. For example, it is a standard condition in all 1st and 2nd offense cases that a person completely abstain from the use of alcohol and all other intoxicants (including recreational marijuana), and that he or she provide regular breath and/or urine tests to prove compliance with the court’s “no drinking” order.

If you’re facing a 3rd offense DUI in Michigan, you already know it’s a felony, and that it’s serious; you don’t need anyone to make things worse by ratcheting up your anxiety. Fortunately, a 3rd offense DUI is manageable, and, if handled properly, doesn’t have to be the nightmare you may fear. This isn’t to say it’s going to be a walk in the park, but the first thing a person should do is take a little time to learn what’s involved in these cases, and then compare what different lawyers have to say about them, rather than rushing out and make any quick (and regrettable) decisions out of fear.

vectorstock_36740979-copy-300x300No matter what, people are vulnerable when they’re afraid. A lawyer should never take advantage of that, but rather, should do what he or she can to help or protect any such person and calm his or her anxieties – especially about those fears that are misplaced. That’s really what I hope to do in this article, as I’m sure it will be read by at least a few people outside the geographic area where my team and I concentrate our DUI practice. Because a 3rd offense DUI involves so many factors, we’ll divide our examination into 6 parts in order to adequately explain how things work, and what a person can expect.

That may sound like a lot, but it’s not. I’ve written this piece in a very conversational tone, and it’s really a fast read. I started out trying to keep it as short as possible, but anything less than what’s here would have to leave out important points about 3rd offense DUI cases. To be sure, any kind of comprehensive examination of 3rd offense DUI charges in Michigan would be an entire book in an of itself, so our goal here will be to introduce and summarize the most important aspects of them. There is simply no way to lump all of these things into anything less without skipping over crucial points.

Believe it or not, one of our strongest selling points, as a Michigan DUI law firm, is telling people to check around and compare lawyers. A recent phone call, though, made clear that while the idea of exploring your options for representation is important, a person should also have some kind of idea what he or she is looking for before starting that process. This article is not going to be some platform used to tell the reader what he or she should be seeking, but rather a way to help him or her define those things. This quest for representation really becomes the question: What are you looking for in a lawyer?

vectorstock_38572773-copy-300x300The simple truth is that almost every business and practice, and especially those online, are trying to sell themselves in some way or other. Could you imagine coming across a lawyer’s website that basically said, “We’re really busy, and don’t need any more clients, but if you insist on calling, maybe we can fit you in?” Most DUI lawyers have some kind of marketing message(s), and often one that’s primary, and a few others that are secondary. Thus, the reader may find websites touting various combinations of the owner’s experience, fee structures, reviews, results, and/or testimonials.

To get this out of the way early on, our firm is no different; we are in business to attract new clients. Our main marketing message in DUI cases is about results, and our secondary messages focus on the fact that we provide a ton of real information, are the only firm to publish its prices online, and that we encourage everyone looking for a lawyer to do some comparison shopping (although we’re clear that we are not interested in competing with anyone else on price). The whole point of “comparing” is for a person to find a lawyer who can provide what he or she is looking for.

If you’re facing a Michigan DUI charge, it’s a given that the best outcome is to get the whole thing dismissed. Whether or not that’s possible depends on the facts, but it is absolutely essential for us, as DUI lawyers, to examine every bit of the evidence in every case we take. Over the last number of years, video has become an important component of that evidence. We see police video all the time on TV, but usually in only the most “newsworthy” cases. Beyond those situations, however, video can play an important role in any other kind of criminal or DUI case, as well, and, often enough, it does.

vectorstock_13206505-copy-293x300It’s a given that anyone charged with a DUI would like to find video evidence that exonerates him or her. On the other side of the coin, the police and prosecution would hope that it confirms and bolsters their case. Sometimes, however, the video doesn’t stand to help either side very much. Video evidence, like everything else, needs to be viewed in context, and in this article, we’re going to “look at” (pun intended) why all of this is so essential. Above all, a lawyer cannot neglect the importance of context and just carelessly plow ahead, using video that ultimately hurts the client’s position – even if just by accident.

I have to be circumspect here, but the inspiration from this article came from a conversation I had with someone whose position is to decide cases. I can’t say anymore, so I need the reader to simply trust my representation that this person (I will use the initials “TP” for “this person” to avoid even a gender reference) makes legal decisions based on evidence. During the course of our conversation, TP noted that sometimes, lawyers will play video from a DUI arrest to try and proves some  legal point. What TP said next, though, really made me think.

In part 1 of this article, we began a real-world examination of 2nd offense DUI cases in Michigan. Our objective in this piece is to drill down into what a person will experience, and why, as he or she deals with a 2nd offense drunk driving charge. The major thrust of part 1 was to examine and understand that in a 2nd offense case, the real focus of the law, and, by extension, the court system, is on a person’s drinking. By the time someone winds up in court for his or her 2nd DUI, he or she has proven themselves to be a risk to the public after consuming alcohol.

hufgfg2-298x300Years ago, I heard a Judge put it this way, and it has stuck with me ever since: “Society has lost its sense of humor for people like you.” DUI cases are now taken more seriously than ever. The red flag thrown up by every 2nd DUI offender is that he or she is someone who needs to be stopped from driving drunk again. It’s taken as a given that whatever was done to him or her the first time around obviously wasn’t enough. It certainly shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that everything that will happen in a 2nd offense DUI case is going to be “tougher” than what was done in a person’s prior, 1st offense case.

The first tool the courts will use to accomplish that is to separate him or her from drinking altogether. Accordingly, it is standard in almost every DUI case – and certainly in EVERY 2nd offense case – that a “no-drinking” condition of bond will be set and the person will be required to periodically test to prove that he or she is in compliance with it. Beyond that, his or her probation will also require that he or she continue to abstain from alcohol and continue to test, in addition to completing counseling and/or treatment, among other things.

As Michigan DUI lawyers, my team and I handle A LOT of 2nd offense cases. This is no doubt due, at least in part, to the volume of accurate and useful information we put up on our blog and website. In this 2-part article, we’re going to continue that mission and look at the reality of a 2nd offense Michigan DUI charge. We’ll skip the scare tactics and all the other BS, and focus, instead, on what a person facing a 2nd offense here, in the Greater-Detroit area (meaning Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and the surrounding counties) will actually have to contend with.

bjhg-300x300The first thing we should NOT do is exaggerate the severity of a 2nd offense DUI charge in Michigan. The reader already knows it’s serious, but – and this is really important – it’s also manageable. If not, we could just limit this whole discussion to, “Wow; you’re screwed.” Instead, we need to look beyond the potential legal penalties and negative consequences and see what it is about 2nd offense cases that makes them a big concern to both the legal system, and the Michigan Secretary of State, who is required, by law, to revoke the driver’s license of anyone convicted of 2 DUI’s within 7 years.

The problem with most legal websites is that they either focus on fear-based marketing, which attempts to frighten a person into calling the law firm that has just made itself seem as if it can “save” him or her from all potential scary fallout, or otherwise make it seem like they have some special knowledge or skill to get DUI charges dismissed that all the other lawyers somehow lack. Such tactics may be profitable for the attorneys who use them, but they overlook important, fundamental factors that must really be taken into account in order to properly handle a 2nd offense DUI case.

In Michigan, the overwhelming majority of DUI cases are resolved through a plea, and very often, that involves a plea bargain. In this article, we’ll examine plea bargains and why they are such an important part of the DUI court process. Here’s a quick analogy to help explain: Most television sets go from a store to someone’s home through a sale, meaning a person buys it. Sometimes, a person is able to get a really good deal (a “bargain”) on a TV when the price is reduced. In that sense, the price reduction is a special kind of sale, just like a plea bargain is a special kind of plea.

vectorstock_30228921-copy-300x300Anytime a person stands before a Judge in court, and, while under oath, admits to having committed an offense, that’s a plea. Criminal and DUI charges get resolved in 1 of 3 ways: Most, as noted, are disposed through a plea of some sort. Sometimes, a case goes to trial, and the end result of that is the person is either convicted or acquitted of an offense. Once in a while, before any plea deal is reached. and before a trial ever takes place, a case get dismissed for legal reasons, usually because of a successful defense challenge to the evidence or the some issue regarding the law.

A plea bargain is a deal that reduces the original charge against a person to something less serious. In other words, in exchange for the dismissal of a more serious charge, a person will admit to doing something lesser, meaning an offense that carries less potential legal penalties and/or negative consequences. Not to be too simple about it, but we can break it down this way: A plea is the admission of guilt to an offense, while a plea bargain is just that, a bargain as it relates to the severity of the offense for which a person accepts responsibility.

As Michigan DUI lawyers, my team and I know what it means to properly fight for our clients. Key here is the word “properly.” If the reader has spent any time online, he or she has already found endless marketing messages about DUI cases. There is no shortage of lawyers who will fight everything to the last penny of your money, and there are also plenty who market themselves as having “affordable” or “reasonable” fees, which can often mean paying a cut rate price to have your case sold out and wrapped up as soon as possible.

lklkjkoi-300x285In this article, we’re going to discuss how to best handle a DUI case. No matter what, success is a DUI case is always best measured by what does NOT happen to you. For anyone facing a DUI charge, having it dismissed completely is always the best outcome. However, when, as in most cases, that can’t happen, then less really is more, in the sense that fewer legal penalties and negative consequences are always better. Those results don’t come about by being sold out, but, on the flip side, merely “fighting” everything, just for the sake of fighting, doesn’t produce any benefits, either.

Instead, the best results are always achieved by following a smart defense strategy. It may sound corny, but it’s also true that, as Michigan DUI lawyers, we sometimes have to stand fast and hold our ground, while others, the best outcome is achieved through an intelligent compromise. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that what should be done in any given case, and when to do it, is all dependent on the facts, and not just the facts of the case itself, but also things like where it’s pending, and the parties involved, including the prosecutor and the Judge.

If you’re facing a Michigan DUI charge and looking for a lawyer, the search process can be overwhelming. Every legal website is designed to get your business. Lots of effort goes into presenting an appealing message. What lawyer or law firm in their right mind wouldn’t do that? The next logical step after looking online is actually making contact with a lawyer or law firm, but then, and without exception, your inquiry is always seen as a potential new, paying case. Consequently, when you call any lawyer or law firm, they’re going to treat you as nicely as possible, hoping you hire them.

Comp3-300x287Can you imagine the opposite of that – a law firm being rude to a caller, and/or making it seem like her or she is a bother and his or her business isn’t wanted? We know from our own outgoing phone calls that some law offices seem to forget that whoever answers the phone is also “The Director of First Impressions.” When you’re calling around, anything less than a welcoming reception is a huge red flag, but there’s a lot more than that to comparing lawyers and finding the one that’s right for you. On top of everything else, anyone looking for an attorney needs to quickly become a savvy consumer.

Perhaps the most important lesson I want the reader to take from this article can be boiled down to one simple statement: Don’t be a sucker. Every legal website is online to sell services; ours is no different. Some of these provide a lot of information (of varying degrees of usefulness), while others rely more on reviews and testimonials. Although my personal preference is for information over tributes, neither approach is “right,” or “wrong,” and, even more important, whatever you find on a website is really not enough, by itself, to make a final hiring decision.

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