Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Ithaca DWI Lawyer: Handling the Felony DWI

New York State is in my opinion very harsh on the second time DWI offender. The reason I say this is because in many other states it takes at least three DWI related convictions to get to the felony level. That said two DWIs within ten years is a class E felony punishable by up to four years in prison in New York. This is serious stuff and handling this type of charge requires great proactivity.

So what's the best way to be proactive with a felony level DWI offense?

Alcohol Treatment, Continued Treatment, and More Treatment is the First Big Key to Taking Responsibility

If the case has what we call a bad fact pattern, there's an accident, there's a high BAC, and there's admissions of drinking then most Judges will look for ownership. Does the client own up to what they have done? Are they taking step to address the alcoholism? 

Most Judges will look for ownership. . .

In other words, have they been evaluated? Have they started treatment or a program? The majority of judges and at the felony level we are talking about seasoned county court judges want to see responsibility in action. Treatment that is started as soon thereafter the event (the DWI arrest) shows that immediacy. This evaluation and treatment must be documented. 

Alcoholics Anonymous is NOT treatment but having as well adds to the picture of responsibility and ownership. We advise our clients to self-document all AA meetings and even treatment sessions.

First Time New York State DWI Felonies are Different Than Third or Fourth DWIs 

I'm always looking for where I might have a friend in a felony DWI case. What do I mean? Sometimes the judge is not amenable to being lenient, so can I look to the probation department to be lenient? Sometimes the DA may be ok with being lenient but not probation. Sometimes NO one and I mean NOONE wants to be nice to my client. 

There are cases where the past DWI and this one both have horrible facts. The client's behavior with the police was horrible, or their accidents were memorable, or they rubbed someone the wrong one somewhere, maybe on their last DWI. Maybe the lawyer they picked on the first was callous or petty. Who knows, and more importantly at this point, who cares?  

I only care about what we can do to salvage this DWI and get the best outcome.

In the Case of a Felony Level Charge I Need Friends to Help Me

1. Can PROBATION be a Friend?

This might mean calling the probation department and speaking to the probation officer assigned to this case. Inquiring about whether there are alternatives to incarceration available. Do they have everything they need about my client and their history to do a fair and complete assessment. Most people do respond to others helping them do their job. Yes there are some people who are not nice and don't care but I've developed rapport with many others. Could they recommend alternatives in their report as well, if that is appropriate.

2. Can TREATMENT be a Friend?

Can I get a letter from the treatment provider giving an overview on my client that is favorable.

3. Can A SCHOOL COUNSELOR be a Friend?

Can I get a letter from my client's school counselors? Maybe they are an excellent parent and that needs to be documented.

4. Can FAMILY be a Friend?

Can I get letters from close family.

5. Can THE DA or THE JUDGE be a Friend?

Can I align as many people as possible who are involved in this person's life with what I want to achieve. That includes the Judge, the District Attorney, the Probation department, the treatment provider, and anyone else who can vouch for the success of my client.

Sometimes who turns out to help are not who I originally expected. When everyone is against you the is always another strategy but that is a story for another blog.

Every case and situation are a bit different but in the end better outcomes are achieved with that goal in mind. This philosophy is very simple, if you help enough other people get what they want then they will help you achieve what you want.