When you are charged with a crime, you have the Constitutional right to competent representation by an attorney. A defendant also has the Constitutional right to have his attorney review his case for 10 days. When I review clients’ criminal histories, I often see evidence that shows that there are several attorneys out there who are not doing the job that they have been hired or appointed to do.
Below are a few of the many examples and, of course, the names have been changed.
I was hired by Eric, who was being charged with his third DWI. A third DWI is a felony charge which can result in up to 10 years in prison. When I was reviewing the clerk’s records, I noticed that on his first DWI, he didn’t bail out of jail. After 10 days or so in jail, he was taken to Jail Court. Jail Court is a specialty court whose purpose is to give people who are in jail and unable to bail out, a way to get out of jail quickly. The problem with jail court is that the offers usually help in the short term, but hurt people in the long term. In exchange for you pleading guilty and taking a conviction, you get out of jail today.
Eric, was appointed an attorney in jail court and plead that day. This means that the attorney only had a few minutes to look over the police report and the breath test results. DWIs are complex cases, which require more than a cursory look at the police report. Police write their reports in a persuasive way and use them to justify their decision to arrest a person. I’ve had many cases where I read the police report, thought it was going to be a horrible case for my client, only to see after watching the video that my client had a good case.
The second time that Eric was arrested for DWI, he was able to bail out of jail. He even hired an attorney to represent him in that case but the attorney didn’t let the court know that he had been hired on the case until Eric’s first court date. The clerk’s records also show that Eric plead that day. The problem is that an attorney doesn’t get access to any evidence until he lets the court know that he has been hired or appointed on the case. This means that the attorney that Eric hired did not have a chance to download and review the video on Eric’s case.
When Eric hired me, he was facing a felony because he had two previous DWI convictions and he had never had an attorney actually look at any of his previous cases.
I also had someone come in for a consultation. Daniel was being charged with a first DWI. He was saving up money to hire an attorney when his first court date came up. Daniel told me that he was going to let the judge know that he was in the process of hiring an attorney and ask for a reset, which happens regularly.
On the afternoon after Daniel’s first court date, he called me. He told me that the judge appointed an attorney to represent him. The attorney advised Daniel to accept the offer and never told Daniel that he had the right to have his case reset. All of this was done without the attorney reviewing the video in the case.
I frequently see this in assault cases too. I have represented many people on assault cases that are felonies only because of a previous assault conviction. When I look at the first assault case, it was plead out on the first setting. Assault cases are generally difficult for the state to prove and the long term consequences are very harsh. There is almost no reason for a defendant to plea to an assault case at the first setting, but I see it all the time.
If you are being charged with a crime, talk to your attorney about the evidence before accepting any offers. Ask them what the video looked like, ask them if they’ve been able to get in touch with the witnesses, and ask to review the evidence. If your attorney hasn’t reviewed the evidence, hasn’t tried to contact the witnesses, or pressures you into taking an offer at the first setting, you need to know that this is a red flag that your attorney has probably not done the work required to effectively represent you.
If you’re being charged with a crime and are not happy with your attorney, click the link below to schedule a consultation. You can also call my office 24/7.