Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ithaca Lawyer Why Get a DWAI Violation Letter of Explanation (legal opinion)?

  • Teacher Certification
  • Doctor and Professional Licensure
  • Employment Positions with Responsibility and Authority

Fingerprints are only the beginning from apostilla.com

All of the above will likely require an FBI background check. Many will want much more than that. Many will want an interview and/or hearing to explain any of your baggage. "Baggage" as in history that can impact you negatively or can cast you in a bad light. We are all human, and unfortunately we may or may not have unpaid student loans, divorce, child support arrears, litigation, bad credit, criminal and/or non-criminal offenses, prior drug and/or alcohol use, plus, plus. He who is without priors can throw the first stone, we all have some baggage (me included).

You don't truly know who you are until they bring up every thing you did wrong over the course of your life. Many boards and organizations go on the proverbial witch hunt. I have sat in front of these inquisitors. Much like the Spanish Inquisition, it is not fun or pretty to watch, worse to be in the cross hairs. I have gone through four state Bar lawyer admission background checks. They go over your entire life history, every state you have ever lived, every license you have ever held, every job you have ever worked, every loan, and every re-payment or non payment, every lawsuit filed by you or against you, and on and on. Hours of questioning if you have ever lived or made a mistake. If you are not perfect be prepared to explain why?

2013 The Chinese Year of the Snake, OR is it the Year of Explanation?  

This year more than any other I have been asked, and have wrote more letters explaining DWAI than any other. The violation of New York DWAI, VTL 1192 (1) is unique. It is not the general DWI or DUI that many think about for a number of reasons. Remember that most states in this country do not have a lesser included non-criminal offense of driving while. It just does not exist in their law.

NYS Driving While Ability Impaired by alcohol is NOT a crime.
NYS DWAI alcohol, Vehicle and Traffic Law 1192 (1) is a violation.
If your are convicted of, or plea guilty to NYS DWAI you do NOT have a criminal conviction on your record.

The Why, Who, and the What?

Why get a letter?
Who needs a letter?
What is the primary purpose of a letter of explanation?

First, the BIG WHY?

A FBI background check of your criminal history will show any and all violations, misdemeanors, and felonies from any state but it will not show any level of these offenses. It does not indicate whether they were classified by a state as a summary offense or violation (both non-criminal). In PA and NJ they have summary offenses (non-criminal) dispositions similar to the New York State Violation.

Getting a certificate of disposition from the Court or the County or the state of record can indicate a level. Then an attorney licensed in that state can render a legal opinion letter indicating the level of the final disposition.

Second, WHO needs such a letter?

Someone with a summary offense or a violation may desire to give their situation context. Show it was a non-criminal offense, maybe even indicate they are now rehabilitated, and that they have never been convicted of a crime. Someone even with a misdemeanor may want to show it was not a felony level offense. Anytime you present to a job, a position of trust and responsibility in this day and age you will likely be checked out thoroughly. A teacher, a doctor, a management position will all necessitate a criminal background check.

Two recent examples:

A teacher with a 25 year old DWAI presented to a job. She stated that she never had a criminal conviction, and was subsequently fired for lying on her job application. The FBI check revealed the non-criminal DWAI from NYS but it had NO explanation. I did a letter for her future jobs.

A doctor from Pennsylvania with a 15 year old new York State violation (not a DWAI) called harassment 2nd. They were originally charged with a NYS Felony reduced to a non-criminal violaition. The PA District Attorney would give a break to them on their new (recent) crime if this old offense was really NON-criminal (no prior criminal convictions). His reading and his PA lawyer's reading of the record was not enough proof. My letter of legal opinion with the interpreted NYS statutes and NYS sentencing furnished the proof for another NON-criminal disposition in PA.

What's the primary purpose of the Attorney letter?

The primary purpose of a letter from a NYS attorney is to give the requisite proof and interpretation of the law. Coming from an objective source that is merely giving the opinion to clarify the prior situation is usually welcomed by others within the field of law. An expert opinion only helps all of the parties to understand the complete picture and make an informed decision about or concerning an applicant. It is often welcomed by interested parties. People love reasons to give and award stuff.

Today there is intense scrutiny of people in the new world of internet technology. Companies, licensing boards, and certification committees want assurance that their choices don't come back to haunt them at a later date.

An attorney letter of opinion and/or explanation, with the review of documents and records can cost as little as $500. This will depend upon the level of time and effort involved. The true cost of approval and validation to a job applicant or candidate may be priceless. The long term value of a license, a job, or a position can only be assessed by you.

Over the last 27 years, as a Chiropractic Physician, and then as an Attorney I have testified, counseled, and advocated for patients and clients. I am licensed in four states, PA, NJ, NY, and FL. If you have a question about how a prior offense can impact your future and/or career feel free to give me a call or send me an email.

Lawrence (Larry) Newman, D.C., J.D.

Doctor or Chiropractic
Attorney and Counselor at Law