Monday, August 11, 2014

Lost in Translation: Problems with Not Understanding a Single Legal Word

Just last week I was at a hearing just with a judge, and a law enforcement officer. To explain his point the judge kept using the same word over and over. He used it on and on, but the officer's face was blank. The judge used it (the word) in about four different ways. But based on the officer's facial expression he really wasn't getting it. The judge kept changing everything except this one word he seemed to love.

Missing Just One Word = ?

Have you ever read something or heard something and you didn't know the meaning or the idea in back of just one word. Not knowing just one key word or term can make the rest of it appear meaningless.

The judge was attempting to educate the officer in his job. He was trying to get across what he did and said that was confusing to the person he arrested. The police officer was being told what he did that was wrong so he could correct it in the future.

I just sat back and listened after all I wasn't about to educate the officer in how to better arrest and give client's their rights. No way.

The WORD: What He Did Wrong and Why?

This was a NYS DMV License Refusal hearing. The judge was explaining that even though he properly read the refusal warnings he vitiated them. How did he vitiate them? He told my client that he may lose his license, that it may be lost for a period of time, and that the judge in criminal court may or may not give him a license. All of this vitiated the original warnings which state a definite loss of license suspension and revocation of one year if a chemical test of breath, blood, or urine is not taken.

The Word Vitiate came up again and again at this hearing. But the officer appeared to not get the full meaning of that one key word. Without that understanding he wasn't getting the lesson, wasn't really learning anything, and left the hearing more confused than when he arrived.

To Vitiate is to DESTROY OR IMPAIR THE LEGAL VALIDITY OF. He vitiated the DMV DWI REFUSAL warnings by giving the arrestee confusing information about his refusal to take a chemical test after they were given.

Suffice it to say we won that hearing, no loss of a license. Remember that words do have power and never be shy or embarrassed to ask, "hey what does that mean?"

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.