Mandatory minimums from juvenile past – Virginia DUI Lawyer weighs in
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Mandatory minimum sentencing risks follow juvenile court drinking and driving guilty findings, says Virginia DUI lawyer
Mandatory minimum sentencing can bite a criminal defendant in the butt with a variety of subsequent convictions, including for repeat DWI, theft and drug convictions. As a Virginia DUI lawyer, I know that the notion that many people have about juvenile criminal court guilty findings having minimal damage in one’s adult life is a fallacy when it comes to repeat DUI sentencing and some other areas of the criminal law, as addressed further below.
Beware DUI mandatory minimum sentencing for subsequent convictions
If no other justification exists to fully fight even one’s first DUI prosecution, it is to deal with the harshness of being convicted within ten years for a second Virginia DWI conviction, which brings at least twenty days mandatory minimum jail for second offense committed within five years, and at least ten days minimum incarceration for a subsequent offense committed more than five years after the first one but within ten years of the first offense. On top of that, a subsequent Virginia DUI conviction brings a three year driving suspension with a significant waiting period to apply for restricted driving privileges.
Juvenile court DUI guilty findings are not mere youthful indiscretions for repeat offender sentencing
Generally, Virginia juvenile court “proceedings are corrective in nature rather than penal.” Conkling v. Commonwealth of Virginia, 45 Va.App. 518, 522, 612 S.E.2d 235 (2005). However, Virginia’s legislature is free to make exceptions to that general approach to juvenile court, and does so with DWI mandatory minimum sentencing, prosecutions for being a felon in possession of a firearm, and advisory sentencing guidelines. Conkling, 45 Va.App. at 522-23.
The importance of keeping the burden with the prosecutor to prove eligibility for minimum Virginia DUI sentencing
With even juvenile court records not safe from DUI mandatory sentencing, Virginia DWI defense lawyers all the more need to hold the prosecution’s feet to the fire on their burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the existence and applicability of a DUI defendant’s prior DWI convictions in adult court and Juveniles and Domestic Relations District Court. For DUI repeat offense sentencing, a criminal defendant’s past DWI convictions are elements of the alleged crime, which means that the prosecutor has the burden to correctly and timely plead an applicable substantially similar prior offense, and provide correct, accurate and reliable court-certified documentation of the allegedly applicable prior offenses.
For mandatory minimum sentencing cases, the criminal defense lawyer needs to examine the four corners of each prior offense record offered in court by the prosecution, examining for potential attacks concerning authenticity, regularity and reliability of the document; description of the prior court case disposition; and connection to the current criminal defendant, because a prior conviction for a “Joe Smith” is not automatically connected to the Joe Smith sitting beside me in the courtroom counsel table.
Virginia DUI lawyer Jonathan L. Katz provides a full court press against felony, misdemeanor, and DUI prosecutions. Jon Katz will be delighted to speak with you in confidence about your pending criminal court case, through a free in-person consultation, scheduled through his staff at 703-383-1100.