Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Not All Bad Deeds Must Be Punished

The headline today proclaimed: "Driver who hit bicyclist likely won't be cited."  The underlying message of the headline was that something horrible happened, and the person who made it happen may go unpunished.  A 50 year old man is in the hospital, and he's not doing well, the article states.

The focus of the article and its title brings attention to a fact of life that is hard for some to accept, that not all bad deeds get punished.  This s a good thing.  There doesn't always have to be punishment from the government for bad things that happen.

In the accident in the article it was night, the bicyclist was wearing dark clothing, and according to the police, the driver who struck the bicyclist tried to avoid hitting him, but by the time she saw him it was too late.  Indeed, it appears that the bicyclist was partially to blame as he tried to cross the street and beat the on coming traffic, but did not make it.  Regardless of whether charges are brought, the driver is likely going to bear personal guilt and self punishment, even if it is not deserved.

The fact that someone was hurt is a tragedy.  I would be an even greater tragedy if public outcry or overly aggressive police officers and prosecutors decided to cite, charge, or prosecute someone for an accident where there was no criminal intent or criminal liability.  Accidents happen, sometimes someone is in the wrong place at the wrong time, but when the dust settles, it is evident that they are not a criminal.  I have had clients who were charged with crimes in these types of circumstances.  When that happens, it is important to have an attorney advocating for the dismissal of charges, to ensure justice is served, and to avoid adding another victim to what was an accident.

(435) 654-9529

Friday, April 26, 2013

What Happens When Police Break the Law?

The headlines lately have brought attention to an age old problem of what to do when police officers behave poorly, or break the law when they are investigating a case.  In West Valley City, Utah, many drug related criminal prosecutions were dismissed because the police misconduct in investigating the crimes resulted in the prosecutors stating "we no longer believe we have sufficient credible evidence with which to obtain a conviction."

When an investigating police officer knowingly, or inadvertently violates the law, it compromises the investigation and the case.  When evidence is gathered illegally, even if it proves that a person is guilty of committing a crime, it cannot be used in court.  This is called the exclusionary rule, and its intent is to motivate police officers to play by the rules, or have their efforts be wasted.

If you are charged with a crime, and believe that the police officers may have broken the rules relating to properly gather evidence, give me a call.  For example, if police search your house or car without a warrant or permission, any evidence gathered is illegal.  Likewise, if you have been arrested and are interviewed without having your Miranda rights read to you, any statement you made was gathered illegally.

When I review a client's case, the first thing I look for is whether the evidence was gathered legally.  If I believe the officers didn't follow the law, I file a Motion to Suppress the illegal evidence.  I have been successful in State and Federal Courts in litigating Suppression Motions, getting evidence thrown out, and having my client's cases dismissed.  Everyone should play by the rules, especially police officers, and when they don't, there are consequences.

(435) 654-9529 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

How Will a DUI Effect Me?

Many of my clients are anxious to know how a DUI will effect them, and for how long. The concern is that a DUI conviction: limits your ability to drive, impact your employment opportunities, effects insurance rates, carries with it a social stigma, gives you a criminal record, and acts as a prior for future DUI's .

 In Utah, a DUI conviction will stay on your record for 10 years. A second DUI within that 10 years period dramatically increases the penalties you face if convicted again, and a third DUI within the 10 year period is a felony, punishable by up to 5 years in the State Prison.

Once ten years have passed, you will be eligible to expunge your DUI conviction, and it will no longer be used as a prior conviction. This ten year waiting period for expungement is the longest for any type of crime in Utah. For example, felonies can be expunged after seven years, and some misdemeanors can be expunged after three years, but any alcohol related driving offense must wait the full ten years.

I have been successful in negotiating with prosecutors to reduce a DUI charge to an alcohol impaired driving charge or even a non-alcohol related reckless driving, under certain circumstances. A reduction to straight reckless driving is not always possible, depending on the fact of the case, but when it happens, it reduces the time the conviction is on a client's record by more than half. A reduction to alcohol impaired driving can help you keep your drivers license, and lessen the impact on your insurance, but it acts as a prior conviction for future DUI charges, and cannot be expunged until after the ten year waiting period.

 If you want to avoid having a DUI on your record for ten years, call me to schedule an appointment. I will review the facts of the case and see what if any negotiations can be done to reduce your conviction. The best advice I have is not to drink and drive.

(435) 654-9529