Saturday, February 24, 2018

Judge With Cocaine Problem Wrongly Uses Opinion Letters and is Disbarred

Suspension vs Disbarment?
I have previously blogged and videoed about using Opinion Letters in legal defense. A recent case of a disbarred Pennsylvania attorney gives further proof of the true value of properly utilized opinion letters. This attorney provided the wrong type of letters.

How to use an opinion letter is important but what type of letter to use in each specific case is crucial. The difference in this case was between a period of suspension from practice, and a disbarment. In other words a temporary professional license loss versus a lifetime license loss.

What did this attorney do to have to face a disciplinary hearing?
What letters did he and his attorney provide?
Why were those letters ineffective at saving his license to practice law?

Friday, February 23, 2018

When is a Plea Offer Final? Playing the Defense Game

'Cause baby it ain't over 'til it's over
                                                                                        Lenny Kravitz

In Court once we have a plea offer accepted on the record and then sentencing on that offense
there is no going backwards. BUT way before the plea is accepted there is room for improvement
in the offer. From the moment of your first court appearance everything you do
and do not do will have an impact upon your offer and your final outcome.

All Plea Offers are NOT Final Plea Offers

Sometimes prosecutors will let you know this is the final plea offer right from the get go. But not always and even if they say that, yes even if they say THIS OFFER IS IT, the judge can step up and say hey district attorney how about...

Judges Get Involved in the Plea Bargaining Process

Some judges are very hands on. They seek the justice that your client deserves. They often balance out a harsh (polarized) prosecutor. They don't want very single case resulting in a trial. In fact since most cases don't go to trial because trials are costly both in time, resources, and money judges will assist in settlement. Pre-trial conferences gauge both sides willingness to deal and to negotiate a fair outcome.

Looking for Friend in the Local Probation Department 

You know the whole phone a friend on the show "who wants to be a millionaire." Well we as defense attorneys look for a friend to help our client. Who can be our ally in the plea process: will the judge be reasonable or maybe our only hope for a level headed and reasonable plea offer if PROBATION.

New York State probation departments in general will look at a person's whole life. From the top to bottom, inside and out they will look to assess the whole of your arrest, and make an appropriate and fair recommendation for sentencing. And even though we can't always count on their generosity or kindness it is nice to know we can sometime have a friend in probation.

Probation writes a report. This evaluation and report can come either before or after the plea offer is accepted. This report can evaluate needs, make treatment suggestions, and finally weighs in on the plea offer and sentencing. For the most part probation will likely be a liberal determination based in rehabilitation and treatment. They tend to shy from moving straight to punishment and incarceration in most instances.  

So it all comes down to if the prosecutor is too one sided? 

Will the judge be the friend we need?

Will probation be the friend we need?

Believe it or not sometimes probation and the judge are the ones looking for harsh punishment.

The Poker Game: Plea Bargaining and Criminal Defense 

If we are without a friend in the judge or probation, then the district attorney may be our ally in persuading the judge. Assessing all the parties and their viewpoints allows us to figure out where, what, and how we can achieve the best outcome. A tricky bit of play, kinda like a poker game.

In poker you don't always have the best cards but the game is truly based in psychology. Your opponents may not know all your cards either. Some cards are showing while some are not. The best hand doesn't always will the game. The best players play the long game not the short one.  

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

My Problem with the New York Sealing Law 160.59

This is how I sometimes feel, like wtf
You know I have this issue with fairness. Freely admitted I think some things are blatantly unfair. Justice is something people philosophize about but practically it can be achieved. It drives me crazy and sometimes I even lose sleep over it.

One of my new peeves is the new New York sealing law under CPL section 160.59. It allows for sealing of old DWI criminal convictions if they are over 10 years old plus a few other qualifiers. And this is big news because NYS does not have expungement so sealing is the next best thing BUT...

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Can a Canadian Legal Opinion Letter Get a New York DWI Dismissed?

Canadian Legal Opinion Letters, Some lawyers are advertising
and marketing their miraculous affect on DWI charges.

Can they really get a New York State felony charge
Can they even get DWI charges reduced?

I am all about justice and fairness and anything too good to
be true usually is NOT. Caveat Emptor, may the buyer of services beware because
in this day and age the promise of easy fixes grows daily.

Opinion Letters About Canadian Travel are NOT Effective for DWI Defense

An opinion letter concerning the ability to travel to Canada would do very little in terms of reducing the impact, substantially lowering, or even dismissing the charges. If it's a New York State felony DWI, the likelihood is that this is a second DWI within 10 years. The defendant is facing up to four years in state prison so getting that reduced because they can't travel to Canada, really?

When I read this I thought about how much I love South Park on Comedy Central but this information is not being presented for humor. So what are some effective opinion letters to be used to defend a DWI?

Here's a link to a blog post on How to use Opinion Letters in criminal defense 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

How to Persuade A Judge to Leniency: Reasons Create Reasonableness

Help Them See the Truth By Proving Your Rehabilitation  

Judges, prosecutors, and even probation officers want reasons to help you. If you show you don't care and aren't trying to address your underlying problems then they will follow suit. BUT if you show and prove you are proactive post arrest, then they will support those efforts. Showing them progress towards sobriety always begins with an assessment / drug and alcohol evaluation. It continues with follow through: AA/NA meetings, classes, and checking in regularly for screenings.

Persuasion is Always About Supporting a Person's Values

Judges and prosecutors take an oath. That oath states that they are to safeguard and protect the public. If the proposals and steps that your attorney is having you take support that value then the court and DA will align with you. They will support your time and energy spent in treatment and rehabilitation.

Your sobriety is never just for you.

Your lack of wellness, your instability, and your ill health affects everyone around you. Your family, your friends, and the community are all potentially impacted by all your actions. Having an IID (ignition interlock device) on your car is a community safeguard because the public is always the named victim of a DWI with or without an accident.