Wednesday, October 14, 2009

New York DWI Windows of Opportunity

Funny how the things you think about can relate to so many other things. This morning I remarked to my wife how the pear I was about to eat had such a brief period of perfect ripeness. No, I'm not high, but I do get these moments of insight. I have found that pears unlike apples are good, crisp, and delicious (not mealy) for only a few days. Cut them too soon and they are hard and bland. 

Then it hit me, DWI cases also have temporary windows of opportunity. The clock begins to run on every case when you are first arraigned with counsel. This is where you enter your plea of not guilty, and are formally told of the charges against you, by The People (of the State of New York).

Once you are arraigned your attorney must NOW make a demand for Discovery, and for a Bill of Particulars. This is the government's evidence against you (how they plan on proving their case). 

The District Attorney now has 15 days with which to comply with that demand. In addition, you have ONLY 45 days from this first date (the date of the initial appearance) to make, and to file any pre-trial motions. Motions to suppress evidence, Motions to suppress statements, Motions to Contest the use of the refusal against you, Motions to state that the stop and/or the arrest were unconstitutional.

Does your attorney serve the demand upon the District Attorney in Court (at the Initial Appearance)? 

Does your attorney wait? A few days? A few weeks? Does he send a letter? 

My philosophy is that:

1. The ADAs (Assistant District Attorneys) have a lot more cases (files) than I do. 
2. The government employees are typically overworked, and can not possibly know each and every file. 
3. I have more time to spend and think about fewer cases (because I take fewer cases).
4. I have more time to demand, gather, interpret, and study the evidence.
5. I have an advantage IF I use time as an opportunity.
6. There is now a greater likelihood that I will better understand the facts and the case.
7. The sooner I begin, the better my defense (s) to the evidence.

Attorneys are on strict timelines (deadlines). Meaning that if you DO NOT file motions in a timely manner you will lose your opportunity (your chance) to contest and argue them at pre-trial hearings. Too bad, so sad or if you snooze you lose. 

Pre-trial hearings (suppression hearings) are really where cases are truly won or lost. They are opportunities (G-d I love that word) where a lawyer can truly test his defense theories, size up the police officer, and create narrow and focused points of attack. 

So much like seizing that opportunity to eat a piece of fruit when it is perfectly ripe I believe it is vitally important to strike early, strike first, and strike hard with DWI cases. 

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