Disclaimer:* Names have been modified to hide identity. All cases are different, and past accomplishments are not a prediction for future success.
Mr. W. was an out-of-state resident, and found an attorney online whom he decided to hire. This attorney had been practicing law for 18 years, but did not even promote himself as a DUI defense lawyer. Nonetheless, this attorney charged Mr. W. quite high legal fees for representation.
Mr. W’s case was then transferred from the lead attorney to a subordinate attorney, who it turns out, had been licensed to practice law for less than six months at that point.
That attorney appeared in court, and from all indications, seemed to have absolutely no idea what he was doing. Despite Mr. W. maintaining his innocence, the newly-minted lawyer told Mr. W. that the prosecutor had come up with a really good plea agreement, and that it was his recommendation that Mr. W. take that plea agreement, pleading guilty to a DUI offense.
Mr. W. maintained his innocence, and notified his lawyer that there were three other witnesses in the vehicle, all of which would testify that he was not the driver, that his son was the one driving, and that he had never been in the driver’s seat, nor in control of the vehicle.
The subordinate attorney interviewed all three witnesses, all of which maintained that Mr. W. was not operating the vehicle, but that his son was the only one driving the vehicle, and the son was in control of the vehicle at the time of the accident.
The son, himself, admitted that he was the driver, and that his father was innocent.
Nonetheless, after performing all the interviews, the subordinate attorney, unethically, advised his client to plead guilty to a crime that he did not commit, because he thought it was a “good” plea agreement.
After doing his research, Mr. W. called me up to talk to me about possibly taking over the case. I told Mr. W. that I was not a fan of people jumping ship, and once they hired an attorney, they should stick with that attorney, and not try to hire another attorney, after spending thousands of dollars. However Mr. W. told me that his current attorney was advising him to plead guilty to something he was innocent of, and that he really needed help.
After hearing what Mr. W. had to say, I soon thereafter took over the case, and ended up charging nearly half the amount that the other law firm had charged Mr. W.
Within a month or two of taking over the case, I was able to convince the prosecutor to dismiss all DUI charges against Mr. W.
When Mr. W. attempted to go back to his original law firm to ask for a refund, due to incompetent representation, not only did the law firm claim that they had earned every dollar that Mr. W. paid them, but provided Mr. W. a semi-detailed invoice, claiming that the law firm earned their fees due to the lawyer with 6-months as an attorney having earned $1,400 in billable hours for attending two court appearances, over $1,000 to read the police reports, over $800 in billable hours for “preparation,” and over $1,300 in billable hours for phone calls and emails. All of which led up to this law firm advising Mr. W. to plead guilty to a crime he did not commit.
Upon Mr. W. asking for a refund, the lead attorney of the law firm got involved, and explained to Mr. W. That he completely agreed with the subordinate attorney’s assessment that Mr. W. should plead guilty.
This, despite the fact that it is unethical to tell an innocent person to plead guilty, and it is further unethical to sign off on a plea agreement acknowledging that your client accepts responsibility for a crime they did not commit.
This conversation between Mr. W and the previous attorney occurred just before I was able to get all the DUI charges dismissed.
To add insult to injury, upon me taking over the case, and talking to the prosecutor in court for the first time, when I told the prosecutor that I wanted all the DUI charges dismissed, because my client was innocent, the prosecutor responded that he thought my client was going to take a plea agreement that day. I had to tell the prosecutor that my client was innocent, would not be taking a plea agreement to any DUI, and had previously received incompetent representation.
Upon then appearing in front of the judge that same day, and attempting to continue the case, the judge also mentioned that he thought my client was going to be taking a plea agreement that day. I then had to explain to the judge that my client was previously improperly represented, and that I anticipated the case would either be dismissed, or we would set the case to trial at the next court date.
Essentially, the subordinate attorney took it upon himself to notify both the prosecutor and the judge that Mr. W. would be taking a plea agreement to a DUI offense, despite that Mr. W. never said that he would be taking a plea agreement, and at all times maintained his innocence.
I arranged for Mr. W. to plead guilty to False Reporting to a Law Enforcement Officer, with all DUI charges dismissed.
V.S. told the Court that she was represented by the [“Jingle Lawyers,”], but they withdrew off of her case.
She was there for a Sentence Review Hearing, to notify the court as to the current status of her Ignition Interlock Device requirement, as well as the amount of alcohol counseling that had been performed.
She explained to the Court that she was in the middle of counseling, that her license was revoked, and that she had no ability to get an ignition interlock device installed on her vehicle.
The court reminded her of her sentencing requirements, and continued the Sentence Review Hearing date out another 45 days.
Having heard that she was represented by the “Jingle Lawyers,” before withdrawing off of her case, I decided to talk to her, because I thought that she was probably horribly misrepresented, and that she was sent down the wrong path and abandoned, and that she had no idea what was about to happen. I could not believe how right I was.
I’ve heard a lot of bad stories about the “Jingle Lawyer,” most of them concerning inadequate representation, and at least three separate people told me that their “Jingle Lawyer” attorney forgot to show up to a court appearance, resulting in them getting a warrant, and officers coming to their house to arrest them, because the “Jingle Lawyer” forgot to show up to the court appearance.
I had an experience with one of their former clients, who hired the “Jingle Lawyer,” the “Jingle Lawyer” took their money, and then withdrew off their case, then that person ended up hiring me.
When I went in to speak to the prosecutor the next court date, I mentioned that I was taking over the case, and that I would need to continue the case, and the prosecutor seemed surprised, because their notes indicated that the “Jingle Lawyer” told the prosecutor that the client would be taking the plea agreement at that court appearance.
When I spoke to the client, and asked if the “Jingle Lawyer” ever discussed a plea agreement with them, the client said they had no idea that there was a plea agreement on the table, or what it was.
The “Jingle Lawyer” literally told the prosecutor that the client would be taking a plea agreement, but never talked to the client about it.
Back to V.S.
When I asked to review V.S.’s paperwork, what I could determine was that the “Jingle Lawyer” simply plead her out to the Court to all of her charges (not a plea agreement), and that she was sentenced to twice the amount of jail time that I would normally be able to negotiate for a similarly situated client.
V.S. was so confused at to what had taken place, she wasn’t even able to tell me whether she took a plea agreement, and/or pled guilty to the Court. She said that her attorney would not respond to her calls, would not answer her questions, and when she asked about what was going on with her license, the “Jingle Lawyer” attorney told her not to worry about it.
What V.S. didn’t realize was that her previous attorney had set her down the wrong path, and she was about to end up with 1 to 2 1/2 months of extra jail time, because of the incorrect way that her previous lawyer had handled the case, and by not correctly advising her on how to comply with her sentence.
V.S. had a prior Reckless Driving conviction, and when she pled guilty to the Court on all of her DUI charges, that triggered a one year license revocation, with no ability to get any sort of restricted license. When I asked V.S. if her “Jingle Lawyer” attorney explained in this to her, and what would end up happening with her sentence, she indicated that she was not made aware of this, but that she did ask what would happen with her license, and the attorney would not give her a real answer other than telling her that things were fine.
What I had to explain to V.S. is that she got a horrible sentence, her previous attorney really screwed her, and she was about to get screwed even more, because she did not realize that she was setting herself up to go back to jail for at least 31 days, and possibly up to 75 days.
The way that the “Jingle Lawyer” set her up, was that she would have to install an Ignition Interlock Device for the Court in order to get 31 days to 75 days deleted from her sentence.
However, what the “Jingle Lawyer” reportedly did not discuss with her was that her license would be revoked for one year due to the combination of a prior Reckless Driving conviction and a current DUI conviction, that she would be ineligible to get any sort of restricted license, but that the Court would, nonetheless, require that she install and maintain an Ignition Interlock Device for one year for the Court, in order to get a big chunk of her sentence deleted, regardless as to whether she was eligible to drive, and regardless as to whether her license was revoked.
I told V.S. that her previous lawyer had set her down the path, to where she could have shown up to Court today, and been taken into custody to serve out an additional 1 to 2 1/2 months in jail, but she may have flown under the radar, because there happened to be a substitute judge in court. However, her next court date was, presumably, going to be in front of the normal Judge, and that she may be walking into a situation where the Judge would order that she do an additional 1 to 2 1/2 months in jail, with the possibility of being taken into custody right there in court.
V.S. had no idea that this was possible, really did not understand her sentence, did not know what her attorney did to her, and could not understand why her attorney would not return her phone calls, and withdrew off her case, when she spent so much money on having that attorney represent her.
I told her that if she were my client, I would have charged or half as much, I actually knew what I was talking about, I very likely would have gotten her a much better sentence based on my experience, and I would have given her some alternate options considering her license situation, which would have likely put her in a better position, and not risked her being sent away for month(s) of additional jail time, putting her entire life, and her children’s lives, in jeopardy
V.S. was not aware of any other options, and didn’t even understand the sentence that she received from the Court. I explained to V.S. what her sentence was, and why her previous lawyer had her heading towards the likelihood of going back to jail for 1 to 2 1/2 months.
I correctly advised her of what she needed to do, and likely saved her from having her world turned upside down.
She was concerned with how a DUI conviction on her record might affect her career.
A.T. decided to hire me based on my DUI experience, and my experience in representing nurses in DUI cases, and as the case proceeded through the system, an interesting issue developed.
As part of my representation, I do include retesting the blood for alcohol content, if I think it is in my client’s best interest. In A.T.’s case, I did think that it would be beneficial to retest the blood, and I requested that the prosecutor release a sample of blood for our own independent testing.
While the prosecutor was outwardly willing to release a sample of the blood for our testing, every time my scientist went to pick up a sample from the State’s lab, the lab technicians consistently refused to provide a sample, until they were given the opportunity to test the blood first.
Despite that two vials of A.T.’s blood were taken, one for the purpose of testing by the Defense, and one for the purpose of testing by the State’s lab, week after week, the State’s lab refused to provide Defense Counsel’s scientist with a sample of A.T’s blood for testing. Week after week, it was the same excuse, that they would not turn over sample of the blood until the State had tested the blood themselves.
This situation lasted several months, before Defense Counsel filed a motion requesting that the Court get involved, and order the Prosecutor and the State lab to turn over a sample of A.T’s blood.
The Courts did order that the Prosecutor and the State’s Lab turnover a sample of the blood to Defense Counsel’s scientist, and after several more weeks of trying, the State’s lab still refused to turn over a sample of blood.
It was determined that the State Lab refused to turn over a sample of blood, knowing that the Court had ordered them to do so, because the top Prosecutor basically told the lab to ignore the Court’s Order, and not turn over a sample of the blood until they had done their own testing on the blood.
Despite being able to test the blood themselves at any point, the State’s lab dragged their feet, and the top Prosecutor not only told the lab to not turn over a sample of the blood to Defense Counsel’s scientist, but also did not tell the lab to expedite the testing of the sample in order to comply with the Court’s Order.
I filed the motion asking that the Court dismiss the case for violation of the Court Order, refusing to turn over the blood as ordered by the Court, as well as the Prosecutor not using due diligence in testing the blood themselves. Part of the argument was that the State was not required to be allowed to do their own testing before providing Defense Counsel an opportunity to do their testing. In fact, Defense Counsel has a Constitutional Right to do an independent blood test. However, the State imposed their own rule, and advised their lab to ignore the Court’s Order. The arguments was then made that what was taking place amounted to prosecutorial misconduct, and the case should be dismissed.
Understandably, A.T. was getting frustrated with what was taking place, and how long the case was pending in the system, and despite that I did not charge the client extra legal fees in order to make this extensive and innovative argument, A.T., in conjunction with her father, who was now getting involved in the situation, decided to talk to another attorney, who claimed that he has done over 20,000 DUI cases in his 30+ year career, when in reality, he’s probably done maybe 1/10 that number. Upon looking this attorney up, I could not believe the false information this attorney provided on his own website, as well as other legal websites.
In the middle of a 2-day hearing being held on whether the case should be dismissed, A.T. decided to fire me, and hire this other attorney, and when I asked why she would hire another attorney in the middle of this legal argument, where the judge seemed receptive to my Motion to Dismiss, she indicated that she discussed the case with this other attorney, and the other attorney talked about going to trial, and trying to win at trial, and that he was really good at trial. A.T. added that I never talked to her about trial, which is why she decided to go with this other attorney.
I explained to her that the reason that I never talked about trial, is because I was trying to get the case dismissed so that she wouldn’t have to go to trial, and if I could get the case dismissed short of trial, she would never have to go to trial, nor pay my legal fees to go to trial.
I asked A.T. what this new attorney thought about my Motion to Dismiss that I was in the process of arguing in front of the Judge, and A.T. reportedly said that the other attorney wasn’t planning to fight that issue, didn’t quite understand the issue, and that he would just set the case to trial.
I told A.T. that the motion that I wrote, and the issue that I created, is her best chance at a dismissal, and that if the new attorney is just talking about setting the case to trial, then the attorney is really doing her a disservice.
Ultimately, the new attorney did end up continuing to fight my motion, although he had no idea what to do about the issue that I created. I was later told by other attorneys that he sought out assistance of other attorneys in order to help him figure out how to handle the case, and other attorneys advised him that what I did was a great argument, and that he was set up quite well to get the case dismissed, but he had to actually fight the issue, and finish the job that I had started.
Later, I received word that the new attorney actually won my Motion to Dismiss, and the entire case was dismissed. Unfortunately, the prosecutor then appealed the issue up to the Lower Court of Appeals, and the Lower Court of Appeals overruled the Trial Court Judge’s granting of the Motion to Dismiss.
Upon the case being sent back to the Trial Court to move forward to trial, after this new attorney enticed my client to leave me, to go with them, because they thought that having a trial was the answer, and they claimed that they were really good at trial, and really experience at trial, the new attorney ended up pushing the client to take a plea agreement, and the client ended up spending thousands of dollars on this new attorney, in order to end up with a DUI conviction on her record by way of a plea agreement.
A.T. literally ended up in a much worse position than she would have been if she did not fall for this new attorneys lies.
Despite all the boasting about going to trial, and how the new attorney was really good at trial, and how the attorney thought that she would be found not guilty at trial, the attorney ended up pleading her out to a DUI, after taking what I presume were thousands of dollars from her.
When M.S. hired me, he made it clear that he did not want a DUI conviction on his record, and that he wanted me to be able to negotiate his case down to a Reckless Driving plea agreement, or get the case dismissed.
I told M.S. that due to his alcohol level, and the fact that I was not hearing any good legal or factual issues based on what he told me, I did not think it was likely that I would be able to negotiate his case down to a Reckless Driving plea agreement, or get the case dismissed, but that I would see what I could come up with to try to convince the prosecutor to do one or the other.
After hiring me, M.S. was frequently sending me questions asking for an update about his case. I repeatedly had to tell him that cases do not move that fast, that I needed time to properly work his case, that I understood what he wanted, but it takes time for me to lay everything out for the prosecutor in what is called a Deviation Request.
M.S. ended up contacting me several times, prior to the first court date even taking place, asking me for an update, but I had to repeatedly tell him that cases take time. I was able to provide him an update about his Motor Vehicle Division Hearing, and provide him a copy of the police report, but there weren’t many other updates that I can give a client, especially prior to the first court date.
At exactly the 2 month mark of me being hired to represent M.S., with me working on his Deviation Request, and before his second court date had even occurred, M.S. asked one more time if there was an update to his case. I alerted M.S. that I did not yet have an update, and again reiterated that cases take time.
That same day I was then notified that M.S. had hired another private attorney, presumably because he believed that the case was taking too long with me as his Attorney.
Now, M.S. ended up hiring someone that I believe is an excellent attorney, but I know this Attorney to be a lot more expensive than me. I imagine M.S. ended up paying several thousand dollars more for this other Attorney’s representation, above and beyond what I charged him.
Because M.S. did not allow me to complete the part of the representation that he had paid me for, I decided that it would be appropriate for me to refund him some of his money back, but since I had done quite a bit of work on his case up to that point, I did retain a good portion of the funds that he had already paid.
Exactly 2 months after hiring this new Attorney, which was exactly 4 months after he retained me to represent him, M.S. pled guilty to a DUI.
I cannot say for certain what that other Attorney did, but I can see that the end result was that M.S. did not get his dismissal, and did not get his DUI negotiated down to a Reckless Driving. What M.S. did get was what was likely several thousands of dollars less in his wallet for a similar or worse plea agreement than what I would have been able to get him. All because M.S. was too impatient, and would not allow me to properly do what I felt was appropriate to try and negotiate this case down to a Reckless Driving.
I can’t say for sure that what I was doing would have definitely resulted in the case being dismissed, or negotiated down to a Reckless Driving plea agreement, but I would have had my answer a lot sooner, and he would have saved himself thousands of dollars had he just stuck with me and been patient.
I met with C.W. who was charged with Marijuana DUI. C.W. was up front and told me that while he was meeting with me, his father wanted him to hire another lawyer. C.W. told me another lawyer’s name, which I was unfamiliar with, so I looked him up on my phone right in front of C.W.. C.W. told me that this other lawyer was a former judge, and had been doing legal representation for a long time. When I looked up this lawyer, I was able to see that he had, in fact, been doing this for a long time… nearly 50 years, and that he did appear to be a former judge. The problem is that he wasn’t well rated, and that his practice areas listed a few different things, but not DUI. The closest thing listed was that 1/3rd of his practice was in Criminal Defense, which is close to the type of representation the Defendant needed, but DUI is a specialized area of the law all to itself.
I told C.W. that the other attorney had definitely been practicing law longer than I had, but that he was charged with Marijuana DUI, and that needs to be handled in a very specific way. I told C.W. that he needs a DUI lawyer, not just a lawyer who does 1/3rd of his practice in Criminal Law.
Ultimately C.W., through the advice of his father, and because I think his father was going to help pay for it, decided to go with the other lawyer. No problem. There are certain lawyers I would strenuously recommend not going with, but I couldn’t say anything bad or good about this other lawyer, other than what I could see online, and other than he was rated very low on AVvo.com. However, I have seen many fabulous lawyers rated low on AVvo,com, simply because they don’t know how to properly utilize AVvo.com
Nearly a year had passed, and C.W. called me out of the blue. It took me a while to remember who he was, but once he told him the other lawyer’s name, I remembered everything we discussed.
He told me that he went with the other lawyer because his father pressured him, and that it was a horrible mistake. C.W. told me he wished he stuck with me, because the other lawyer charged twice as much as what I charged, always had someone else show up in court for him, wouldn’t return phone calls, and when a plea agreement was worked out – which was a pretty good plea agreement in my opinion (if handled correctly) – the lawyer completely screwed everything up.
While C.W. plead Guilty to DUI: Impaired to the Slightest Degree, when the lawyer gave the factual basis, telling the judge what had taken place, the lawyer screwed everything up. C.W. says that he actually tried to correct the lawyer, based on the initial conversation he had with me, but that the lawyer wouldn’t listen, and had no idea what they were doing.
Because the lawyer handled things wrong, C.W. ended up with a one year license revocation, with no ability to get a restricted license, a one year Ignition Interlock Device, and SR22 High Risk Insurance. Had the other lawyer known what they were doing, C.W. would have received a 90 day license suspension with the last 60 being a restricted license, a 1 year Ignition Interlock Device, with the last 6 months eligible to be deleted, and no SR22 High Risk Insurance.
Because the other lawyer, with nearly 50 years experience, didn’t know how to properly represent a DUI Drug case, the client ended up in a much worse situation.
To add insult to injury, C.W. told me that when he was blown away by the one year license revocation letter that he received in the mail, which was completely unexpected, and not explained to him at all, he called his lawyer to complain, and his lawyer told him that for an additional $1,500, the lawyer would fight the MVD and their revocation of his license.
I told him that, unfortunately, I think the other lawyer was just trying to get more money out of him for busywork, since there is absolutely nothing that could be done now, and, in any event, fighting the MVD would not do anything. If anything, the fight would be with the Court, and attempting to write motions to the MVD would be pointless, as the MVD is only following what the Court tells them to do.
C.W. ended up in a much worse situation, because his father focused solely on the number of years of experience, and not on the type of representation that the other lawyer focused his legal practice on.
Mr. K. was represented by a private attorney who had a contract with the government to represent defendants. Mr. K. was charged with four counts of Aggravated DUI, all class 4 Felonies, and was appointed an attorney who has been practicing for 18 years, had graduated law school Cum Laude, but regarded herself as a 100% Appeals attorney, although that didn’t stop her from being assigned and accepting a DUI case.
Presumably because she was not able to make a living on appeals alone, she took the contract with MaricopaCounty to represent indigent people on cases that, for one reason or another, could not or would not be handled by the Public Defender, Legal Defender, or Legal Advocate’s Office.
Mr. K., although represented by his court-appointed private attorney, had very little faith in her representation. He says that his attorney would not give him the time of day, would not listen to his concerns, and simply pushed the plea agreement.
Mr. K. felt he was in a horrible position, as he felt that his attorney was not properly representing him, and he felt that the plea agreement that she had been pushing was overly harsh, but he also did not believe that he could fight the case with his court-appointed lawyer, who appeared not to care about him, nor the facts of this case.
Mr. K. was 22 years old, had two children, one of which had severe medical issues, and his court-appointed lawyer was pushing for him to do four months in jail as well as have a designated Felony on his record.
Although Mr. K. entered into the plea agreement to a Felony, which was being pushed by his lawyer, he felt that he was not being properly represented, and despite having very little funds, he sought out the advice of numerous private attorneys.
Some of the attorneys told him that he was screwed, and other attorneys told him that there might be an issue in this case.
Mr. K. ended up talking to me, and after spending about a half hour with Mr. K., I was able to determine that not only was it inappropriate for Mr. K. to have plead guilty to a Felony offense, but it was inappropriate for him to have even been charged with one.
After speaking to Mr. K., knowing that he would be unable to afford an attorney, I attempted to nonetheless help Mr. K. out by contacting his court-appointed attorney, and laying everything out for her so that she could hopefully get Mr. K. out of his plea agreement, and get him into an appropriate plea agreement, which would have been a Misdemeanor.
I offered to assist the court-appointed attorney for free, and provide her information and motions so that she could properly represent her client.
After laying everything out for this court-appointed attorney in great detail, the court-appointed lawyer wrote back a very pleasant e-mail saying that while she appreciated my willingness to help, she respectfully disagreed with my take on the case.
Although I could not understand how the court-appointed lawyer could disagree with what I laid out for her, lawyers can come to different conclusions on legal matters, and it basically became an issue for Mr. K. to decide how he wanted to proceed, either with his court-appointed lawyer, or to attempt to hire a private attorney.
What I later discovered was that at the same time that the court-appointed lawyer was writing me a very nice e-mail telling me that she respectfully disagreed, and she appreciated my help, she also wrote to the court indicating that I had created a conflict between her and her client, that I had filled the Defendant’s head with “incompetent advice,” and that she was asking to withdraw from the case.
The following day the court-appointed attorney, on her own initiative, withdrew her Motion to Withdraw from representing the Defendant.
I later discovered that she then used my “incompetent advice” to attempt to get a better plea agreement with the prosecutor, and she was successful to some extent, in that the four-month jail plea agreement then turned into a 30 day jail plea agreement, however, the plea agreement still called for Mr. K. to plead guilty to a Felony.
It seems that my involvement in Mr. K.’s case seem to put the court-appointed lawyer on the offensive, and she then seemed to take an interest in Mr. K., and started e-mailing Mr. K. with her thoughts on the case, and the options available to him.
Unfortunately, despite the court-appointed lawyer’s years of experience, it became apparent in reviewing e-mails that she wrote to the Defendant, which were subsequently forwarded to me, that this government-appointed attorney taking on Mr. K.’s Aggravated DUI case had no idea how to handle a DUI case, and I suspect has no idea how to handle criminal cases in general.
The advice that was given to Mr. K. was, in some cases, completely wrong, and the court-appointed attorney really showcased how incompetent she was at DUI representation.
Although I had stopped taking on Aggravated DUI cases a few months earlier, and I knew that Mr. K. did not have the money to hire a private attorney, I just could not stand on the sidelines and watch a person get a Felony when I knew that they did not deserve one.
While the private attorney who had a contract to represent Mr. K. had been on the case for seven months, and it appears that the only thing that she did was ask the prosecutor for a plea agreement, and try to force it down Mr. K.’s throat, I reluctantly substituted in as the counsel of record, taking over the case from the court-appointed lawyer, and after 10 days representing Mr. K., I was able to negotiate a plea agreement for a Misdemeanor DUI with 30 days in jail, which was the appropriate plea agreements in a case such as his.
She had already forced him into taking the plea agreement, basically having him lie to the court to tell the court that he endangered other people with a substantial risk of imminent death, despite that he was only pulled over for driving in the bike lane for a few feet, and then the officer ran a check on his license plate, which came up suspended.
The court-appointed lawyer did not care about her client, was not willing to accept the free help that I had offered her, was only interested in getting the money that she gets off of her court-appointed contract, and was willing to throw me under the bus when I had simply tried to help her.
Had Mr. K. not found me, he would be doing four months in jail, and have a Felony on his record, that would probably haunt him for the rest of his life.
Within 10 days of my taking over the case, I was able to get a Misdemeanor DUI plea agreement, but it took an attorney who knew what they were doing in order to properly explain it to the prosecutor, to convince them to deal with this case as a Misdemeanor.
This is a prime example that a lawyer should not be judged by the number of years that they have been practicing, nor that they were one of the top students in law school. This court-appointed lawyer has probably represented hundreds of Defendants on DUI and criminal matters, yet is one of the most incompetent lawyers I have ever encountered.
It is so important to do your research, and find the right attorney to handle your DUI case.
It is not enough to simply go for the most expensive lawyer, the one on the top of search engine results, or even the one with the most testimonials.
Research is key, and there are very few attorneys that really focus on DUI Defense Representation. Finding the right lawyer can absolutely make all the difference.
The difference in this case was shown to be a Felony with an incompetent lawyer, and a Misdemeanor with one who knows what they are doing.
C.C. was charged with two counts of Aggravated DUI. He was assigned a private lawyer to represent him through a contract that the private lawyer had with MaricopaCounty.
This court-appointed lawyer was well-known in the legal community, and has represented hundreds, if not thousands of individuals on criminal and DUI matters, both as a private lawyer, and on the government contract.
This private lawyer was always very jovial, never seemed to take anything too seriously, and seemed to be fairly well-liked amongst his peers. Based on his age, he had probably been practicing law up to that point for somewhere around 30 years.
C.C. had very little faith in his court-appointed lawyer, and after spending a few months with him, C.C. decided that it might be a good idea to talk to some other private lawyers.
C.C. fortunately met with me, and although he did not have a lot of money, I was able to give him an option on what is called Knapp Counsel.
Knapp Counsel basically allows a private attorney to associate with a court-appointed lawyer, to assist the court-appointed lawyer in representing the Defendant. The court-appointed lawyer is in the primary position, and the “Knapp Counsel Lawyer” is in the secondary position, but with the permission of the primary lawyer, can assist in the Defendant’s case in numerous ways.
Many times, a court-appointed lawyer does not like the idea of Knapp Counsel, as it basically give the impression that the Defendant was not satisfied with the court-appointed counsels representation, and the court-appointed counsel doesn’t like the idea of someone looking into how they are truly representing their client.
Although C.C.’s court-appointed counsel seems nice enough when I first came on the case, I let the court-appointed attorney know the type of motion that I thought would be appropriate in a case such as C.C.’s.
The court-appointed counsel jovial disposition seemed to take a turn, and this lawyer told me that he would not be writing the motion that I felt was appropriate, that I could write it and argue it if I wanted to waste my time, that it truly would be a waste of time, and that I would never win on such a motion.
The primary lawyer gave me carte blanche to write and argue the motion that I saw fit, and upon writing the motion, and the hearing on the motion taking place, the court-appointed lawyer did not even bother showing up to court, and did not sit in on the hearing in support of his own client.
After arguing at the hearing, within a few days, the judge came back with a ruling, and my client’s Class 4 Aggravated DUI charges were completely dismissed due to a violation of my client’s Constitutional Rights, which was the subject of my motion.
The motion that the other private attorney had said would be a waste of time, and would never win, ended up getting the entire case dismissed.
The court-appointed lawyer never congratulated me, never apologized, and never bothered showing up in court on the day that the judge dismissed the case.
I have seen this lawyer in passing over the years since this had occurred, and this lawyer can barely even look at me.
Even though this lawyer continues to take on clients, both on the government contract, and in his private practice, I suspect that his clients have no idea that they are probably getting underrepresented, as this lawyer coasts into retirement.
M.G. was charged with two counts of Vehicular Aggravated Assault, a Class 3 Dangerous Felonies; as well as Vehicular Endangerment, a Class 4 Dangerous Felony; and DUI.
M.G.’s arrest took place 17 years earlier, but due to blood test results not being tested quickly, and with M.G. having moved to a different state, it had taken 17 years before he was actually arrested and extradited back to Arizona to handle the pending charges.
M.G. was facing decades in prison for an incident that had occurred nearly two decades earlier.
M.G. was represented by a Public Defender, and upon the Public Defender taking over the case, M.G. got a plea agreement of 2 1/2 years in prison.
Believing that this was horrendously harsh, not only would he have to deal with a Felony for something that occurred 17 years earlier, but his life had completely changed since that incident, he had not been in any trouble with the law since then, and he had since been married, and had a 17-year-old son at the time.
Upon being extradited to Arizona, it was discovered that all police officers were still around and available to testify, and the victim in the case was still angry, despite the passage of nearly two decades. That victim wanted M.G. to pay for the life-changing accident that still impaired the victim’s daily functions.
M.G. was referred to me by another lawyer, and M.G. decided to hire me on as Knapp Counsel, which allowed me to assist the Public Defender in their representation of M.G..
With the consent of the Public Defender, I was allowed to file a motion that I felt was appropriate, in order to get the entire case dismissed.
With the Defendant looking at decades in prison if he went to trial and lost, and with my motion asking that the entire case be dismissed, M.G. decided to enter into a plea agreement that I was able to arrange for him, where he would plead guilty to DUI as a Class 1 Misdemeanor, with no additional days in jail.
Rather than risking an all or nothing scenario, and instead of taking the 2 1/2 year plea agreement that the Public Defender had negotiated for him, he was able to get a Misdemeanor plea agreement, with no additional days in jail, and was able to rejoin his family back in California.
Had M.G. not found me, I have no doubt that the Public Defender would have pushed him to take the plea agreement to 2 ½ years in prison.
D.H. was represented by very well-known Billboard Lawyer. The confusing thing is that this billboard lawyer was only known for being an Injury Attorney. This billboard lawyer does not seem to advertise at all for being a DUI lawyer, but for some reason, D.H. decided to hire this attorney for his Misdemeanor DUI offense.
Despite that this lawyer put himself out there solely as an Injury Lawyer, and I doubted that he had any idea how to represent a DUI case, this lawyer demanded that D.H. pay him $10,000 to represent him on a Misdemeanor DUI. That was an outrageous amount, even for the most exceptional DUI lawyer, but especially for someone who did not even promote themselves as a DUI or Criminal Lawyer, which made it even more outrageous.
Prior to trial, this lawyer told D.H. that he would need to pay an additional several thousand dollars in order for continued representation into trial, and upon D.H. complaining that the private lawyer had not done anything to help him, the private lawyer withdrew off of the case, and kept the entire $10,000 retainer.
D.H. found me, and together we took his case to trial, where the jury came back hung: 7 for Not Guilty, 1 for Guilty.
Although the prosecutor indicated that they would be going forward with a second jury trial, prior to the second trial having taken place, the prosecutor decided that, in the interest of justice, with no reasonable likelihood of conviction, the case against D.H. would be dismissed.
D.H. fell for the hype of the private lawyer, who only took advantage of him, and literally stole $10,000 from him, having done nothing, and knowing that he was not anything close to a DUI lawyer.
Once D.H. found me, an actual DUI Lawyer, I was able to ultimately get the entire case dismissed against him.
This goes to show that the lawyer on the billboards, or the most expensive lawyer, is not always the best lawyer. Research is key, and ensuring that if you are charged with a DUI offense, you want to make sure that you have a lawyer who focuses solely on DUI Defense Representation.
Money does not get you out of a DUI charge. Experience and knowledge gives you the best chance to get you out of a DUI charge.
That was a very expensive lesson for D.H., who literally got little to nothing for his $10,000.
A Defendant was charged with Extreme DUI, and was represented by another Attorney in Scottsdale. His breath test results were low enough that his Attorney was able to get him a plea agreement to a 1st Time Regular DUI, with some added jail time.
The Attorney, thinking that he could do better, decided to test the blood sample for himself. In doing so, Scottsdale will also take it upon themselves to test the vial of blood, rather than rely solely on the breath test results.
The Attorney, not really known for being a DUI Lawyer, didn’t know that you don’t retest the blood in Scottsdale, as the results consistently come back higher.
When the Attorney’s retest results came back higher, he went to the Prosecutor and told them that his client would take the original plea agreement to a 1st Time Regular DUI with some extra jail time. Unfortunately, the Prosecutor’s test results were also in, and they also came back much higher. Since the Attorney attempted to push the envelope and get the blood retested, and everyone’s test results came back higher, the Prosecutor told the Attorney that the new plea offer was to plea to an Extreme DUI with 30 days jail.
The Attorney argued that that wasn’t fair, and even complained to the Judge, who seemed sympathetic, but ultimately held that there was nothing the Court could do, and that the Attorney originally declined the first plea agreement.
The Attorney ended up going to trial on the case, and it is unknown if the Attorney ended up charging his client the extra thousands of dollars that Attorneys usually charge for going to trial.
In the end, the Defendant ended up getting convicted at trial of an Extreme DUI, possibly out several thousand dollars more in costs associated with the attorney taking the case to trial, and definitely requiring the defendant to spend more time in jail, pay more fines and fees, and have a longer ignition interlock device requirement.
All because the Attorney didn’t really know how to properly handle a Scottsdale DUI case, and decided to retest the blood, when someone who knows how to properly handle a DUI case out of Scottsdale would have known not to have done so.
When D.L. called me, he advised me that he had already hired an attorney, but that he did not have a good feeling about that attorney, and was possibly seeking to fire that attorney, and hire a new attorney.
I explained to D.L. that I do not think is a good idea for someone to jump ship in the middle of representation, and that it is usually a better idea for people to stick with the attorney that they had already decided on, and to not spend a lot more money on getting a new attorney.
D.L. explained to me that although he had already hired an attorney, the new attorney had only been on the case for a few weeks, had not yet appeared at a court date, and he was concerned that this attorney didn’t really know what they were doing.
When asked to name the attorney, it was not anyone that I had heard of; and when I went to research the attorney, I discovered that the attorney had been out of law school for only about a year, yet had charged an enormous amount of money for representation, which was about 2 ½ times the amount that I charge, despite me having nearly 12 years of DUI Defense Representation experience at that point.
When I met with D.L., I could hear that there were a lot of potentially good legal issues in this case, and while I told him that I do not normally recommend that people fire their current private attorney to hire me, I had a pretty good idea that this new lawyer would not know how to properly handle a case such as this, and would not be able to successfully represented D.L. the same way that I would.
D.L. did end up firing that other attorney, and hired me to represent him on his case.
D.L. was charged with DUI, and it was alleged that he was sleeping in his vehicle at an intersection, had been there for quite some time, and was the subject of two 911 calls. The police report also indicated that upon finding the vehicle being driven on the highway, the vehicle was weaving outside its lane of travel, and nearly struck the barrier wall.
I was able to utilize a defense technique that is probably known by less than 1% of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
When I attempted to get the Discovery from the prosecutor in order to utilize this defense technique, the prosecutor didn’t really know what I was talking about.
It took months of requesting the Discovery that I needed, with the prosecutor not really knowing what I was talking about, and the police agency stonewalling me, saying that it did not exist, and that other Discovery was what I really wanted.
In the end, was finally disclosed the Discovery that I was requesting, and upon utilizing a little know defense technique, I was able to negotiate a plea agreement to allow my client to plea guilty to Reckless Driving, with no jail time, and less than a $500 fine.
Had D.L. Stayed with his original attorney, I have no doubt that he would have pled guilty to a DUI, after paying a substantial amount of money, well in excess of what I charged him.
P.P. met with me in mid-January. He gave me the impression that he came from money, but that doesn’t change how I treat people, nor what I charge.
After doing a consultation with him, P.P. decided to hire me, signed a contract, and I explained to him how the case would progress.
Two weeks later – before the Initial Appearance was even set to occur, I received notice from another attorney that they would be taking over the case. When I talked to P.P. to ask him what was going on, and to ask why he would have signed a contract with me, just to keep looking for lawyers, and then decide to hire another lawyer, he indicated that he felt the other attorney was better suited.
I hadn’t really heard of this other lawyer he hired, but I did find an article written about this other lawyer, and was amazed ad a quote in this article, which said that he was the lawyer with a “reputation for representing the wretched, the wicked, and the irredeemable.” Not the type of glowing recommendation I would have expected from someone to took a client away from me.
Eventually, P.P. was entitled to go with the lawyer he chose, even if he wasn’t really a DUI Lawyer, but was more associated with serious criminal offenses.
I refunded P.P. most of his money back, and provided the new lawyer with updated information. I let the new lawyer know that I had requested a hearing with the MVD, which he will want to fight, that I notified the court that I was representing him, and that he will want to contact both the MVD and the court to notify them that he was taking over the case.
Then, 4 ½ months later, I get a phone call from P.P. He tells me that he should not have changed lawyers, and that he made a mistake in not sticking with me. He said that his lawyer forgot to show up to the MVD Hearing, that it resulted in him losing his license for one year, and that while he was able to get a plea agreement, the lawyer didn’t really know how to properly handle it in front of the court, and while his lawyer told him that he would be doing 5 days actually spent in jail under the plea agreement, it was the JUDGE that told him that he could do 4 of those days actually spent on Home Detention.
With many judges, if you don’t ask, they won’t offer. P.P. happened to be in front of a judge who was willing to explain to the Defendant that there was another sentencing option… unbeknownst to P.P.’s lawyer.
P.P. then asked if he could hire me back to represent him on the MVD Hearing that his other lawyer forgot to show up to, but I told him that it was too late, and there was nothing I could do for him. I did tell him that he should be eligible for an Ignition Interlock Restricted License, with SR22 High Risk Insurance after the first 90 days of no driving at all. I get the impression he other lawyer didn’t tell him about that.
P.P. then asked if he could hire me to help him get that restricted Ignition Interlock Device license, but I told him that he didn’t need to hire an attorney, it would be a waste of money, that he just needs to meet the requirements and get it.
I imagine P.P. spent a lot more money on that other lawyer, possibly on the theory that the more the lawyer costs, the better the lawyer is. While there are definitely instances where that is true, many times, the more a lawyer charges, does not equate to the better the lawyer is. They just know that charging more give the impression that they are better lawyers, so they can take advantage of people that way. Researching the lawyer is key.
M.G. was charged with 2 counts of Aggravated DUI, both Class 4 Felonies, as well as Possession of Marijuana. The prosecutor alleged that M.G. had a prior Aggravated DUI conviction, which could be used to greatly enhance his current case. M.G. had an odd situation, where his prior convictions may have been considered as one prior Felony conviction, or two prior Felony convictions. The facts of his situation, and the case law, did not exactly make it clear whether he had one or two prior felony convictions.
M.G. was facing a prison sentence of either 2.25 years, up to 7 1/2 years in prison, if convicted at trial; or 6 years, up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
M.G.’s family hired me to take over the case from a Public Defender. With the Public Defender, the plea agreement that was negotiated was a range of sentence between 2 and 3 years in prison, with the actual sentence to be decided by the judge.
At the time, I rarely agreed to take on a case if there was a prior Felony conviction alleged, unless I truly thought that there was something that I could actually do to help. In M.G.’s case, I did think that taking over the case would be helpful.
After taking over the case from the Public Defender’s Office, I wrote a Deviation Request in an attempt to get a beneficial plea agreement, and was able to speak directly to the top prosecutor in the Vehicular Unit about the case.
Due to all the work that I put into the case, and the legal and factual issues that I spotted in the case, I was able to negotiate a substantial plea deviation, whereby M.G. would plead guilty to a 1st Time Aggravated DUI plea agreement, with 8 months in prison, plus probation.
The minimum sentence on a 1st Time Aggravated DUI is 4 months in prison, so this was basically treated as a 1st Time Offense, with double the prison time.
This type of plea agreement would normally only possibly be negotiated in a case where someone does not have a prior Felony conviction, but does have, for example, two pending Aggravated DUI cases.
Upon advising M.G. of this fantastic plea agreement, and M.G. informing his father, unfortunately, is my opinion that M.G.’s father got too involved in the case, and on several occasions, indicated to me that he thought the plea agreement should be better for his son. The father believed that M.G. deserved to get the minimum sentence under Arizona law, which is 4 months in prison, especially because M.G. was a veteran.
I repeatedly explained to the father that 4 months in prison as a term of probation is normally reserved for those people who have no prior Felony convictions, and only if the facts of the case were not horrendous, and that his son did not fall within those parameters, for multiple reasons.
Because of M.G.’s father’s involvement, and the path that I could see M.G.’s father was leading his son down, I was extremely concerned that M.G. might pass up on what I felt was an extremely beneficial plea agreement, considering all the issues in the case. I ended up setting up a Settlement Conference in front of a judge that handles veteran issues, which would allow M.G. to speak openly with the prosecutor, in front of a judge that was familiar with veterans in the court system.
Right before that settlement conference was to take place, I received word from M.G.’s father that they had hired another attorney, and that my services would no longer be necessary.
This was concerning, and quite honestly upsetting, for several different reasons: 1) I knew this could impact M.G.’s decision on whether to take the plea agreement I arranged for him; and 2) Any attorney that recommended that the Defendant hire them, rather then advising the Defendant to take the plea agreement that I had been able to arrange, in my opinion, was only looking out for their own financial interests.
I later discovered who the attorney was that M.G.’s family had hired. This is not an attorney that I was overly familiar with, but I was not happy to hear that any attorney would solicit M.G.’s family to hire them, rather than honestly tell them to take a plea agreement that I was able to arrange for them.
I followed the case for about a year, checking up on minute entries every now and again, to hopefully see if the new attorney eventually convinced M.G. to enter into the 8-month plea agreement that I was able to arrange for him. Even though that would have been a complete waste of money to hire the new attorney, at least M.G. would take the extremely beneficial plea agreement that I was able to arrange for him.
I was horrified when I discovered that M.G.’s attorney actually fought the case on the legal issues, lost, and that M.G. ended up taking a plea agreement to three years in prison.
When I discovered that M.G. entered into a 3-year Plea Agreement, I contacted M.G.’s father, and told him that I would try to assist his son in any way I could, but that he needed to understand that I blamed him for what was happening to his son.
In talking to M.G.’s father, I was informed that the new attorney laid out a number promises to the family that were simply not kept, including that the attorney was going to hire a roadway engineer, which did not occur.
I told M.G.’s father that I would be willing to testify at any hearing concerning Ineffective Assistance of Counsel, if M.G. wanted to file such a motion.
That attorney did such a disservice to M.G., by telling him anything other than ‘Take the Plea Agreement Mr. Sloan arranged for you.’ I could not imagine any attorney looking at the facts of the case, if they actually knew how to represent someone on a DUI matter, and not tell a person in M.G.’s position to take the Plea Agreement to 8 months plus probation.
About a year later, I ran into a judge whom I appeared in front of many times on DUI cases. He happened to ask me if I would be appearing in his court that afternoon. I wasn’t sure what he was referring to, as I had nothing scheduled in his court, and he was no longer one of the DUI judges that I had regularly appeared in front of.
He told me that there was a hearing that afternoon on a matter concerning Ineffective Assistance of Counsel, which he thought involved me, as I was the original attorney on the case.
Surprisingly, I was not called in as a witness, but I did show up, and I did talk to M.G.’s Public Defender on that matter, and provided as much help as I could, with M.G.’s permission.
Although I think what M.G.’s trial attorney did to M.G. and his family was horrendous, and that he was simply in it for his own pecuniary gain, I do give him credit for showing up to that Ineffective Assistance of Counsel hearing, and falling on his sword, and telling the court that he did not do everything that he promised, and that he should have recommended that M.G. take the plea agreement that I had arranged for him.
Ultimately, the judge ended up agreeing that the attorney was ineffective, and due to his Public Defender’s efforts, and my assistance in helping M.G. with his Ineffective Assistance of Counsel allegation, the 3-year plea agreement that M.G. entered into was vacated, and the prosecutor was willing to give M.G. back the 8-month plea agreement that I had negotiated on his behalf.
In the end, M.G. spent more than 1 1/2 years in prison, before finally taking the 8-month plea agreement that I had arranged for him.
He spent twice as long in prison than what was necessary, because M.G.’s father believe that his son deserved a better plea agreement than what I was able to arrange for him, even though I took years off the plea agreement that the Public Defender was able to negotiate.
Unfortunately, M.G.’s family believed the lies of another attorney, who not only ended up taking thousands of their dollars, but then had M.G. sign a plea agreement that was nearly 4 times worse than the plea agreement that I had arrange for him.
Unfortunately, I see a trend in the system where Attorneys are willing to lie to potential clients, and prey on people’s hope that the outcome can truly change, and in just about every situation, the Defendant ends up in a much worse situation, after spending several thousands of dollars more.