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Negotiating Virginia DUI cases off the case processing assembly line

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Negotiating Virginia DUI cases needs humanizing the client who allegedly put lives at risk

Negotiating Virginia DUI and criminal case settlements for the defense is not only a fine art that is ideally developed through years of relevant experience, but requires  humanizing the client with a prosecutor who undoubtedly has a very large number of cases to handle both that day in court and with no end of cases in sight. As a Fairfax DUI lawyer, I have experienced the jurisdictions where police and defense lawyers hang out in the same room where the prosecutor is talking to cops and opposing lawyers about their specific cases, with the remaining people in the room telling one-liners, shooting the breeze, and (with police) giving their spin on the evidence and allegations and their view about negotiations (very often unfavorable to the defendant). In some instances — usually meaning no harm — one or more listening defense lawyer will throw their unsolicited and unhelpful opinion into the mix. This is an undesirable (except when I am gaining intelligence for my case) but common negotiating atmosphere in several Northern Virginia jurisdictions where I defend. No matter where I am defending my clients, I do whatever is needed to redirect the action in order to humanize my client by taking him or her off a prosecutorial assembly line mindset.

Changing the first-time-up-in-court mindset in Virginia DUI cases

With some Fairfax prosecutors in negotiating Virginia DUI cases, no sooner do I start to sit down to talk to them about my Virginia DUI case on the trial date than that they say this is the first time the case is up for court, and here are the cop’s next several available dates for a next trial date. I routinely reply that — particularly if discovery has been provided to me well before the court date — this is a good day to see if we can negotiate a resolution of the case (and sometimes to discuss whether we should proceed to trial as an alternative) rather than simply approaching the court date as a formulaic opportunity to set a new court date. Now that the Fairfax commonwealth’s attorney’s office has a new policy to provide discovery within as short as fourteen days after asking for it with a draft discovery order, certainly gone should be the days when some of the prosecutors from that office said that they had not yet seen the incident video in order to sufficiently negotiate or proceed to trial on the first court date. Fairfax of course is not the only Northern Virginia court where judges are liberal about granting a driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs trial date postponement to either side on the first trial date. Nonetheless, it is much less common for me with other prosecutors’ offices to experience the mindset that our first DWI court date is mean merely to set a new trial date.

Settling Virginia cases by changing the scenario, prosecutorial mindset or both

Virginia DUI prosecutors who know me already recognize that if they do not settle my case for what my client wants with negotiating Virginia DUI cases, my client and I are not going away, and the prosecutors are either going to face a spirited trial defense from me on that current trial date, or else any continuance is going to resume the ball’s rolling all over again. That alone can be an incentive for the prosecutor to hear my concisely persuasive reasons why the case should settle for what my client is proposing, including addressing (and providing documentation of) all the self improvement steps my client has already taken, and letting the prosecutor know some of the key arguments I am going to make to win our case at trial, to show the prosecutor the bets that s/he needs to hedge, to foster defense-favorable settlement negotiations.

Having the presence of unrelated police and lawyers in the room who do not care about my case is not helpful for negotiating Virginia DUI cases. Although prosecutors in jurisdictions where such an audience is present will not always want to clear the room — or step away — to talk one on one with me, that approach sometimes is needed in order to eliminate the distraction of the unrelated audience. Alternatively, so long as it does not harm my client to do so, I can simply wait until that audience has thinned before I speak with the prosecutor.

Negotiating Virginia DUI cases must always be about realpolitik and from a position of strength

As much as winning at trial is exhilarating both for me and my Virginia DUI and criminal defense clients. losing at trial sometimes brings penalties much more severe than the prosecutor’s last plea offer. I advise my clients about the strengths and weaknesses for the defense and prosecution side, and help them make an informed decision from there. When I tell the prosecutor during negotiations about some of my key defenses for the case, I keep in mind what to leave out if doing otherwise will strengthen his prosecutorial position at a trial.

Fairfax DUI lawyer Jonathan Katz has successfully defended hundreds of DWI defendants. Learn about the great difference that Jon Katz can make for your defense by calling 703-383-1100 for a free in-person confidential consultation with Jon.