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Converting Virginia DUI to a reckless result- Fairfax lawyer’s approach

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Converting Virginia DUI charges to reckless driving or better through settlement negotiations can even take place during trial, says Fairfax criminal lawyer

Converting Virginia DUI charges under Virginia Code § 18.2-266 to reckless driving dispositions can happen before and after trial through settlement / plea negotiations.  As a Fairfax DUI lawyer, numerous times I have settled Virginia DUI and criminal cases in mid-trial, either because the trial makes the prosecutor see that his or her case is weaker than s/he had realized — or sees that that the defense means business to proceed to a trial verdict — or because my client sees that our strongest defenses have not convinced the trial judge to our side.

Converting Virginia DUI charges to a reckless driving or better plea disposition must not happen without the criminal defendant’s fully informed consent, and at the accused’s sole discretion

A lawyer is referred as a legal counselor for a reason. As I tell my Fairfax DUI and Northern Virginia criminal clients considering negotiations converting Virginia DUI or other charges charges to a better result, I advise them, but they decide how to proceed in court. The foregoing maxim holds even if I am convinced that an amazing deal has been offered to them by the prosecution (for instance a deal that will obtain a much better result than expected at trial, and that will avoid a mercurially harsh judge). On the flip side, if my client decides to accept a plea offer that I advise not to take, I as his Virginia DUI lawyer must abide by my client’s decision. At the same time, frequently I advise my clients that if they want to accept a particular plea offer, to authorize me first to pursue an even better offer (which will either be achieved or not), at the risk (usually small in my cases) that the prosecutor will simply withdraw his or her last settlement offer. (On that note, when a Virginia commonwealth’s attorney / prosecutor claims that his or her plea offer is their final offer or a take it or leave it offer, the offer often is not so set in stone as that, and the wise getting-to-yes negotiation experts Fisher & Ury advise to negotiate based on goals versus positions, which removes take it or leave it negotiating.

The parties can condition a plea deal on whether the defendant wins or loses his or her motions hearing, or to agree that the plea does not waive the defendant’s appeal rights

Converting Virginia DUI charges and other criminal charges to better results can also be conditioned by the Virginia defense lawyer on (1) only proceeding with the last plea offer or with further settlement negotiations, if the defense loses its hearing on the defendant’s motion to suppress evidence or to dismiss the case; or (2) not waiving the usual scope of appeal rights that typically limits appeals from Virginia Circuit Court to the appellate court, to challenges to court jurisdiction, sentence illegality, involuntary plea, or ineffective assistance of criminal defense counsel under the Constitution’s Sixth Amendment.

The Virginia DUI defense lawyer and commonwealth’s attorney can negotiate a deal at anytime before the judge or jury announces a verdict- Here is a Fairfax DWI attorney’s case in point

While in the middle of trial, the criminal defense lawyer and his or her client do not have much time to further discuss case negotiations unless a break is announced by the judge or by a restroom or other request by either side. That does not preclude the lawyer from addressing with his client even before the trial date that settlement negotiations may continue even during trial. In my recent trial converting Virginia DUI charges to a wet reckless, this happened when the prosecutor was nearing the end of his case in chief, and after the judge had denied my motion to suppress evidence and when all of the prosecutor’s witnesses were present in court who were needed for meeting the elements of a blood draw DWI case against my client. The judge found probable cause to arrest even after I blunted the police officer’s suppression hearing testimony by showing key parts of the incident video and pointing out some of the critical ways in which my client’s sobriety was supported in critical ways that the police officer’s testimony claimed otherwise. Even though my arguments against preliminary breath testing (PBT) testimony lead to the prosecutor’s not successfully getting the PBT result into evidence at the suppression hearing, the judge still found probable cause to arrest. Had I been the judge, I would have rejected the arrest as without probable cause. However, many judges have a much lower threshold than I would have as a judge for ruling on the legality of an arrest or police search. Consequently my client was in the driver’s seat — so to speak — about whether to resume plea negotiations in mid-trial or not.

Going to trial acts as a rejection of the last plea offer. How to resurrect negotiations mid-trial for converting Virginia DUI charges to a less serious count

In resurrecting settlement negotiations with this prosecutor for converting Virginia DUI charges to a better result, before his last witness started testifying, I simply said to the judge that I wanted to ask the assistant commonwealth’s attorney a question. I then walked up to him and said “Offer accepted.” The prosecutor could easily have responded that going to trial legally extinguished his last plea offer of wet reckless driving, and could have offered a less desirable substitute deal, or could have said no deal. Instead, the prosecutor agreed to renew his last plea offer of wet reckless.

Virginia DUI settlement negotiations must come from a position of full trial readiness

Prosecutors in Virginia DUI cases against my clients often realize that they have a choice between giving my client what s/he wants for settlement negotiations — whether converting Virginia DUI or criminal charges to reckless driving or otherwise — or to have a Jon Katz trial, which means a full court press battle that will keep the prosecutor and his or her witnesses from attending to other pressing matters. My trials are fully fought for only one reason, which is to obtain victory or the next best thing. Virginia DUI and criminal settlement negotiations must always come from the defendant’s position of strength of being fully ready for trial. Preparing a case to go to trial makes it more likely to settle. Preparing a case to settle makes it more likely to go to trial. Never give up nor give in.

Fairfax DUI lawyer Jonathan Katz pursues your best defense against Virginia DWI and criminal prosecutions. Find out the critical difference that Jon Katz can make for your defense, through a free in-person confidential consultation about your court-pending case, by calling 703-383-1100