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Separating Virginia DUI prosecutors from police intervention

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Separating Virginia DUI prosecutors from the police in the case can be important for defendants, says Fairfax DWI lawyer

Separating Virginia DUI prosecutors from police officers in the case is often an important start for defending the accused. As a Fairfax DWI lawyer, I know that police feel invested in each case, often after being out on road at exhausting hours and in extreme whether conditions (which of course the defendants are also enduring), and many of them are ideal law enforcement officers from the perspective of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) diehards. With the Northern Virginia chief prosecutors holding themselves out to be progressive, it is antithetical for them to claim being progressive if their line prosecutors are not going to take an independent line in dealing with police in such terms as settlement / plea negotiations, evaluating whether the case merits going forward at all, whether to proceed with an aggravated DUI charge (for instance a second offense, elevated blood alcohol concentration, or case with maiming or death) and making an independent determination of the credibility, reliable and recall of the police and civilian witnesses in the case.

Separating Virginia DUI prosecutors from police officers can start with literally doing just that when defense lawyers speak with assistant commonwealth’s attorneys

In some jurisdictions, it is common for assistant commonwealth’s attorneys to speak with police and prosecutors in the same room, sometimes with side and even snide comments not only from some of the police in the room, but even from some of the defense lawyers in the room. If that is happening or about to happen, that is a ripe time for the defense lawyer conversing with the prosecutor to push for a one-on-one conversation that involves literally physically separating Virginia DUI prosecutors from police during those conversations. Sometimes that sends the police into feeling marginalized or downright slighted, but why should the defense lawyer care, when the defense attorney’s goal is to pursue the best possible outcome for the defendant, and not to be buddy buddy with any law enforcement officers. As to the small number of defense lawyers making jocular and sometimes even demeaning and dehumanizing comments when a colleague is pouring his or her entire self into obtaining a favorable negotiations or else to obtain additional critical information and discovery from the prosecutor and/or police, such guffawing lawyers need to reform their ways.

By now, police in Fairfax know that this county prosecutor’s office takes an independent path, so should not be surprised when the assistant commonwealth’s attorney takes an independent path

For police in Fairfax County — where I am headquartered — their golden age was with the predecessor prosecutorial administrations that stretched right back to the late 1960’s. The current chief Fairfax prosecutor, Steve Descano, came to office promising looking out for the entire community, which includes the very defendants that his office prosecutes. That prosecutorial approach by definition calls for separating Virginia DUI prosecutors from police. Even though they have many overlapping interests, their agendas are not identical. Police investigate and arrest, while prosecutors are supposed to independently evaluate which cases to bring forward, and how to proceed with negotiations and approaches to trial and any sentencing. A police officer has the free speech right to tell a prosecutor that s/he is being too lenient with plea negotiations, but at the end of the day, that is the prosecutor’s decision.

Even when separating Virginia DUI prosecutors from law enforcement is a reality, that does not place assistant commonwealth’s attorney in the same rhythm with DWI defendants.

Prosecutors have their own agenda, which is much different from the agenda of defendants. Consequently, separating Virginia DUI prosecutors from cops does not by itself mean that the assistant commonwealth’s attorneys and defense lawyers have the same agenda. They do not. Prosecutors repeatedly seek convictions and often very firm sentences, when defense lawyers pursue the opposite. This means that Virginia DWI defendants need timely to obtain the right lawyer for them who will fight like hell for their liberty and cause.

Fairfax DUI lawyer Jonathan Katz has successfully defended hundreds of people accused of DWI offenses. Jon Katz knows he is on the side of the angels with such defense, believes that the DUI laws are lopsided to focus on blood alcohol concentration when that should only be part of the consideration of innocence or guilt, and sees fighting Virginia DUI prosecutions as a major civil liberties defense effort. Call 703-383-1100 for your free initial in-person consultation with Jon about your court-pending case. 

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