Thursday, February 28, 2013

County Time

I just finished a burglary of a building trial yesterday.  Ordinarily, burglary of a building is s state jail felony which carries a punishment of 180 days - 2 years in a state jail prison facility and up to a $10,000 fine.  However, my client has a substantial criminal history.  Therefore, what would normally be a state jail felony was enhanced to a third degree felony which carries a punishment of 2 years - 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

From the beginning, he just wanted "county time" on a criminal trespass.  He said he would take 6 months county time.  The offer was never "county time." 

So right before jury selection, he got nervous.  He'd never had a trial before.  He had always just taken a plea deal.  He offered to take 9 months state jail time.  The prosecutors didn't go for that.  So we had a trial.  

We talked about the constitution.  We talked about the presumption of innocence and what that means.  We talked about the 5th Amendment and how it's a bit of a paradox - if you testify, you'd say anything to save your own skin and if you don't it must be because you're hiding something.  We talked about what proof beyond a reasonable doubt really is.  The jurors followed the law and applied those very constitutional principles.

In the end my guy got "county time."  He was found not guilty of burglary of a habitation and convicted of the lesser included class B misdemeanor offense of criminal trespass.  No fine.  90 days in the county jail; time served.  He's a free man. 

This was a court appointed case.  I tried it no differently or put no less effort in it than I would have had he walked in and hired me.  

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Make 'Em Work

I ran into a couple of situations last week that wouldn't have been interesting at all but for the reactions of the prosecutors I was dealing with.  As I always do, I filed several motions in two felony cases I currently have pending.  This wasn't necessarily the big hurdle.  The big deal, apparently, was the fact that I had scheduled the motions for pretrial hearings.

In getting a date for the pretrial hearing, I was met with frustration, exasperation and outright rudeness.  I will not apologize or feel bad for doing my job.  I am a criminal defense lawyer.  To do the job properly and effectively requires time, effort, and work.  I work.  I will not be outworked nor out-prepared if at all possible.