Thursday, July 31, 2014

Making Sense of Legal Language in DWI Cases

It's all Greek to me or in this case Chinese
Understanding the law is a lot like 
reading a foreign language
People sometimes ask me what things mean. Not only the phrases thrown around in court but the words being used by a judge or a prosecutor. Making sense of legal or even non-legal latin terms is a good place to begin to decrease court and legal stress.

Not knowing what is going on starts with not knowing what is being said about you or to you. So in this blog post I'll go over a few common legal terms that I see used pretty regularly in the Ithaca City DWI cases.

"per se" = by itself or as such meaning if you have a "per se" BAC (blood alcohol content) of .08 or more you will then be charged with a DWI "per se."

"sub poena" = sub (under), think submarine and Poena (pain or penalty). Under penalty you are subpoenaed to testify or to produce documents or records. People can be subpoenaed and records can be subpoenaed. I sometimes subpoena police breath test records or video recordings from a gas station to bring evidence on my client's behalf.

"persona non grata" = a person who is not welcome, not graced, as in not free. Gratis means free. TC3 or Cornell or Ithaca College may present an order of "persona non grata" against a person who commits a DWI or possesses drugs or other crime upon their campuses. In other words they don't want you around, you are not welcome to be anywhere on campus.

"in absentia" = If you are absent, not present for court. You can be tried and found guilty even if you are in absentia. These are referred to as The Parker warnings in NYS criminal cases. The judge tells you early on even if you are not there they can proceed without your presence.

"sine qua non" = without which not or indispensable condition/obligation or a prerequisite. Having a drug/alcohol evaluation is sine qua non for a pending NYS DWI charge.

Always consult with an attorney about any criminal or non-criminal charges you have pending to discuss your options and/or defenses.

I am certified in Field Sobriety and Breath Alcohol Testing, and an active member of the National College of DUI Defense (NCDD). My online materials include over 500 blog posts, dozens of articles, and over 500 informative videos on my youtube channel.

I have co-authored Strategies for Defending DWI Cases in New York, in both 2011 and 2013. These are West Thomson legal manuals on New York State DWI defense, and focus on the best practices for other lawyers handling a New York DWI case. I was selected by Super Lawyers as a Upstate New York 2013 Rising Star in DWI/DUI Defense based on my experience, contributions, and professional standing.