Many of the questions you have regarding the future can be answered by a defense attorney. This should be your very next call, as soon as you are able to use the phone following your arrest.
You should know that you basically have three options for representation. You might choose to represent yourself. You also have the option of accepting a public defender (though this will be subject to approval based on your current financial situation). And finally, you have the option of hiring a private attorney.
We highly recommend the last option – and not simply because that’s what we do. Rather, it has to do with the outcomes we’ve seen in cases where the latter two options were chosen.
First, representing yourself is almost always guaranteed to result in an outcome less favorable than you might have otherwise attained had you sought professional legal representation. While a DUI might seem like a relatively straightforward issue, the reality is that drunk driving laws in D.C. are complex, steeped in a complicated history involving not only elements of constitutional law and local policies, but also the science (and pseudo-science) of how people are deemed impaired. Effective approaches may vary from judge to judge. Knowing what’s going to work and what isn’t is often a matter of trial-and-error, born of working in the same circuit for a number of years.
Also in many cases, experienced defense lawyers have built up a solid rapport with prosecutors. Even if you intend to plead guilty, having the advantage of a lawyer who has worked closely before with prosecutors means you have a powerful advocate in negotiating favorable plea deals for our clients. You won’t get that representing yourself.
Now, let’s say you are considering a public defender. For most run-of-the-mill DUI cases, this likely won’t be an option for you anyway, as the courts will generally only provide you with taxpayer-funded representation if you are facing a felony charge. Even then, they have limited resources to do their jobs, so they are only going to give you the bare minimum in terms of representation. It’s not a risk you want to take when you’re facing the possibility of years behind bars.
Plus, if your assets or income is deemed to high, you won’t qualify for a public defender anyway.
That would leave you with the final option: Hiring a private DUI attorney. In these scenarios, be mindful of attorneys who advertise extremely cheap services. Understand that those whose prices are on par with basement bargains probably aren’t going to do much for you, other than usher you into a guilty plea by way of whatever “deal” the prosecution is offering. He or she may not even attempt to negotiate anything better.
On the other hand, a quality DUI attorney is someone who can develop a comprehensive DUI defense strategy. You want someone who is going to not only formulate a plan and then offer up the time and resources to carry out that plan, but also someone who keeps you involved in the process and aware of any changes.
If you are facing DUI charges in D.C., contact the Scrofano Law, PC at 202-765-3175.