CAN AN ATTORNEY HAVE THE CHARGES DROPPED OR THE SENTENCE REDUCED?
Very rarely are you going to go into court and just plead straight up. Even in those instances, if someone is going to come in and say, “I’m just guilty and I just want to get this over with,” there is always going to be wiggle room, there is always going to be something that can be done to lessen the severity of the situation. Very rarely are you just going to go in and say, “I’m guilty of all charges”.
On plea deals, something is almost always going to be dismissed or amended because you wouldn’t be incentivized to take a deal unless that was happening. Outside of plea deals, it’s a lot more difficult to have cases dismissed. You’re going to have to either go all the way to jury trial to hopefully get the person found not guilty or you’re going to have to find some legal reason that evidence shouldn’t come in, or should be suppressed, or that the cops did something wrong and you get evidence suppressed based on that. It is a lot more difficult but it still happens pretty often and the police are not as well trained as everyone thinks they are. The tests that you do are not as scientific as everyone expects. When it comes to DUIs, it comes to suppression issues on just about every case. There are a lot of balls in the air and that’s part of your lawyer’s job to find those and make it work in your favor.
Are There Alternative Punishments To Jail That Someone Might Qualify For, Like A First-time Offender Program?
If it’s a low level crime, there are multitudes of different ways you can keep yourself out of jail. There is always probation depending on the crime but if you have someone that’s not amenable for probation, somebody who does use drugs, you want to take that in mind. You don’t want to set somebody up for failure by putting them on probation.
Sometimes, you are going to explore the possibility of house arrest. You’re going to want to look for some sort of minimized consequence that the client is going to be happy with that’s not going to get them in hot water later on if they violate terms of probation. The best example would be on DUI cases in Kansas. Kansas has extremely tough DUI laws, some of the toughest in the country. Even a first-time DUI has a mandatory jail sentence associated with it.
If someone who has never been in any trouble before, makes one bad decision, all of a sudden, they are looking at going to jail. It could possibly hurt their family, their job and all kinds of things over one bad choice. If it’s a bad case and they do end up taking a plea or being found guilty, an attorney can still avoid a client going to jail even though it’s mandatory by doing what they call a CWIP, Community Weekend Intervention Program.
In CWIP, instead of going to jail, they go to a hotel and do drug and alcohol classes. That not only sets them up for success when they are on probation because they have already met a lot of the requirements to do those drug and alcohol counseling, but it keeps them out of jail and that’s a pretty big deal to most folks.
If Someone Has A Clean Record, How Much Is That Going To Come Into Play?
It comes into play on every case. There are two elements that Kansas looks at on any felony case when they are determining what the sentence is on somebody. If someone’s found guilty, that’s going to be the level of crime; the second is going to be their criminal history.
A person who has no or little criminal history, on just about any level of crime, is going to be in a lot better position than a person who doesn’t. When you look at it from a judge’s perspective, obviously a person who has no criminal history, has a family and a good job and is working through a mistake, is going to get a more lenient sentence than someone who has multiple felonies on their record and just can’t learn to do the right thing.