Jan 13, 2020 Evening odds with an attorney- Fairfax criminal defense lawyer weighs in
Evening the playing field with an attorney can make a big difference, says Fairfax criminal defense lawyer
Evening and even reversing the playing field to the criminal defendant’s advantage is critical. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I repeatedly see the difference that can be spelled between having a qualified criminal defense lawyer and no lawyer at all in court.
The people disparaging obtaining a qualified criminal defense lawyer have their own agenda against evening the playing field
Some criminal defendants have told me about police officers discouraging them from obtaining a criminal defense lawyer, when in fact it is important to demand a lawyer from the outset once a person is a possible criminal suspect or a criminal defendant. Police officers’ jobs are made easier when the defendant has no lawyer on his or her side evening the playing field, and instead goes up against an experienced prosecutor and/or police officer in court.
Beware potential adverse collateral consequences of the 251 drug possession program, and diversion programs
In the Fairfax County, Virginia, General District Court, judges (at least before the current chief prosecutor started dismissing simple marijuana possession cases) invite even unrepresented marijuana possession defendants to consider accepting the so-called 251 program to ultimately dismiss a first time drug possession case for success on probation, and many people accept that option, often not realizing that a lawyer can often be evening the odds through obtaining a better result that has fewer if any adverse collateral risks to such essential concerns as security clearances, immigration status, career prospects and reputation.
The theft diversion program is not automatically the best option
Also in the Fairfax General District court, judges routinely offer unrepresented defendants to enter the misdemeanor shoplifting / OAR diversion program to dismiss the case for success in the program. Once again with many of them not realizing that a lawyer can often be evening the odds through obtaining a better result, whether through Virginia’s satisfaction and discharge law, through arranging a dismissal agreement for such proactive steps as community service, or through negotiating a disorderly conduct or trespassing plea.
The risks of theft diversion and 251 dispositions being viewed as convictions or close thereto
Both the 251 and Fairfax shoplifting OAR program require a finding of guilt, guilty plea, no contest plea or finding of facts sufficient to prove guilt, as a prerequisite to obtaining such a disposition. Immigration law (where the defendant has made such an admission) and security clearance authorities can end up looking at such dispositions as convictions or close to convictions. Evening the playing field against such collateral risks is crucial.
Will the prosecutor speak to an unrepresented Virginia misdemeanor defendant?
Depending on the courthouse involved, the question arises whether the prosecutor will agree even to speak with an unrepresented criminal defendant. If the prosecutor will only speak with criminal defendant’s lawyers, that is all the more a reason to obtain a qualified criminal defense lawyer for evening and even reversing the playing field.
Fairfax criminal lawyer Jonathan L. Katz is a highly rated attorney pursuing your best defense against felony, misdemeanor, and DUI prosecutions. To discuss your case with Jon Katz, please call his staff at 703-383-1100 to schedule a confidential consultation.