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Engage, entertain and emote with the prosecutor for criminal deals

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Engage the prosecution- Image of Sun Tzu quote

Engage the prosecutor as you would all opponents, says Fairfax criminal lawyer

Engage, entertain and emote is my watchword in negotiating for settlement agreements with Virginia prosecutors. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I take a page from Sun Tzu’s admonition to keep the opponent “constantly engaged; hold out specious allurements, and make them rush to any given point.” Art of WarChapter 8. The Fairfax prosecutors and other Northern Virginia assistant commonwealth’s attorneys have full plates of work, which means that to grab their attention to obtain a great settlement — always backed up by trial readiness — the foregoing approach can be very beneficial. When I walk into the courtroom on the trial date and briefly highlight to the prosecutor the bets both sides have to hedge at trial, I am at once helping the prosecutor save his or her own time from re-reviewing dozens or even hundreds of pages of documents and of video footage minutes, and am providing the prosecutor with talking points to convince himself or herself of the wisdom of my settlement offer, and talking points to present to the police officers, civilian prosecution witnesses, and also the trial judge and the assistant commonwealth’s attorney’s supervisors should they ask the reason for entering into the settlement. So long as I am not yielding an inch of essential ground that should not be yielded for my client’s sake, I am able honestly (and a lawyer always must be honest and genuine) to present myself as a helper to the prosecutor for that day, with the prosecutor knowing that if s/he settles with me, s/he can move on to the next case and will avoid trial with me, which will save plenty of their energy and resources.

For a Virginia DUI or criminal defense lawyer to engage the opponent is to throw the attorney’s full self into the effort

A samurai fighter does not enter battle for mere diversion. That is guaranteed to get the fighter’s head lopped off. Even if the prosecutor has a bad hairstyle, wears wide food-stained neckties from an era long gone, and grooves on Barry Manilow music, that does not mean that the assistant commonwealth’s attorney in a Virginia DUI or criminal defense lawyer’s case is not a badass with killer instincts, with no hesitation to pull the proverbial trigger, which is how I approach representing Virginia felony and misdemeanor defendants, without the unsightly fashion and music pollution. When I say to engage, entertain and emote with the prosecutor, I am talking about real business. Engaging includes putting the criminal defense lawyer’s full time and attention into dealing with the prosecutor. Entertaining does not mean being a court jester, but certainly means to avoid speaking in a monotone that by definition will lose the audience, and at times throwing in an appropriate piece of humor, at least when I am the criminal defense lawyer, in that humor is part of my real self, and realness is an essential part of persuading. Emoting is not a thespian exercise, but about fully conveying how serious the whole matter is to the defendant, and why the defendant will simply risk going to trial rather than accepting a plea offer that is too unpalatable.

Negotiating a no-jail result when risking a mandatory ten days in jail in a Virginia DUI case under Virginia Code §§ 18.2-266 and 18.2-270

Trials are the most exciting and adrenaline-packed part of being a Virginia criminal defense lawyer. Nonetheless, my obligation is to reduce the harm against my client, which inevitably means pursuing a negotiated settlement of their case before proceeding to trial, even if the negotiation discuss involves nothing more than talking about why the case should be dismissed, with or without terms and conditions for reaching that result. Recently, I obtained a great no-jail result for a client who faced a mandatory minimum of ten days in jail for a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) result well exceeding the 0.20 threshold, with my approach including the following. My client busted his butt to follow my recommendations to provide me documentation of completing a driver improvement class, a Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Victim Impact Panel (VIP), many Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings, and an alcohol and drug treatment program evaluation which showed my client is but a social drinker. I learned that the essential prosecution witnesses against my client were present in court, approached the prosecutor, and began to engage him. “I have a gift for you”, I told the prosecutor, which can be attention grabbing, in part because prosecutors maybe sometimes have images in their minds about whether it is the sort of gift that they are barred from accepting, as government employees. However, my gift was a packet of the foregoing self improvement documentation. I portrayed my client’s matter as an aberration, as underlined by his being but a social drinker I underlined how much of a hurdle that a Virginia DWI conviction would be to my client’s specific career path, and worse with any active jail time. I was by now doing a drone, an entertaining one, to the point where the prosecutor cut me off and offered a so-called standard first no-active jail plea for that county, plus ten hours of community service. With our risks of conviction and mandatory jail time with a trial, this was a great outcome.

How important is it for my lawyer to be trial-ready on the trial date?

Your Virginia DUI and criminal defense lawyer must always be fully trial ready unless and until your case settles. To do otherwise not only shirks your lawyer’s professional obligations to you, but also risks being caught with your pants down — and worse — if you proceed to trial in the absence of a desirable case settlement. Nothing beats experience in for a Virginia criminal defense lawyer to take a case to trial, just as it is more comfortable to get general anesthetic when knowing that your surgeon is a successful battle-tested medical expert, rather than a physician who has never done major surgery. To engage or not engage. The answer is clear.

Fairfax criminal lawyer Jonathan Katz never rests on his laurels in pursuing your best defense against Virginia DUI, felony and misdemeanor prosecutions. Call 703-383-1100 for your free in-person initial consultation with Jon Katz about your court-pending case.