Friday, December 23, 2011
December 22, 2011: Amazing Result in Multiple-Count Felony and Operating with a Restricted Controlled Substance Case
SJZ was involved in a very serious accident with another vehicle that resulted in numerous serious charges: 2 Counts of Second Degree Reckless Endangerment (felony charges); Operating with a Restricted Controlled Substance in System (marijuana); Violation of Absolute Sobriety (client was under age); Refusal of Chemical Test; Failure to Yield Right of Way; and even a Seatbelt Violation. Initially, things could not have looked more bleak for SJZ. He was possibly facing substantial prison time on the felony charges and lengthy periods of license revoation on some of the other charges. But after sifting through what seemed like a mountain of evidence against SJZ, Dennis Melowski discovered several promising legal issues related to SJZ's blood draw by law enforcement, in addition to several other issues in SJZ's favor. These issues were brought to the attention of the judge through various motions Dennis filed. A lengthy hearing was held, during which Dennis had an opportunity to successfully cross-examine a number of key witnesses for the State. At the close of the hearing, the judge said he was taking Dennis' arguments under advisement and would issue a decision at a later time, given the novelty of some of the arguments Dennis had made. But before the judge cleared the courtroom, he made several comments to the prosecutor which seemed to indicate he was leaning towards agreeing with Dennis. Immediately following the hearing, the prosecutor asked to speak with Dennis in a nearby conference room. The prosecutor knew that what initially seemed like a slam-dunk case was now anything but. The case was settled on the spot and the outcome couldn't have been much better for SJZ. Under the terms of the agreement, one of the original felony counts was reduced to the misdemeanor offense of Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle. All six remaining charges were dismissed completely. SJZ was placed on probation for one year and was ordered to pay a fine of $350.00. He received no jail time; no loss of license; and no trace of this incident on his driver record. What's more, if SJZ successfully completes his probation, the State agreed to expungement of his record, meaning the misdemeanor offense would essentially be erased as if it never happened in the first place. A real result if ever there was one.
When you pick up a second offense OWI charge, it becomes a criminal offense with a mandatory jail sentence. For many people, this is a terrifying realization. It certainly was for our client, JEA. A successful businessman, JEA could not imagine being forced to spend any amount of time in jail, much less the 20 to 30 days that the local sentencing guidelines called for. Not only would such a sentence have significantly tarnished JEA's reputation, it was an unimaginable length of time to be "locked up." Our mission was simple: do whatever we possibly could to get JEA's original charge reduced to a non-criminal charge that would involve no jail time. Through aggressive litigation of two legal issues in JEA's case, and shrewd negotiations with the prosecutor, Dennis Melowski was able to get the OWI-2nd charge reduced to the 2-point traffic offense of Improper Parking on Roadway. JEA paid a fine of $481.50 for this offense but never had to spend even a minute in jail. Mission accomplished.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Our client, CLN, came to us with an OWI-1st in which her breath test result was reported as .13. The case was further complicated by the fact that the police beleived that CLN had been involved in an accident in the parking lot of the tavern she had been at earlier and left the scene. CLN had several immediate concerns when she hired us. First, she needed to avoid the automatic administrative suspension of her license that was to be imposed 30 days from the date of her arrest. If the suspension took effect, her job would have been severely jeopardized. More importantly, she needed to avoid a drunk driving conviction which would stain her record (and career) for life. Dennis Melowski accomplished both goals. By exposing police failure to comply with the requirements of the administarative suspension process, the Department of Transportation did not impose the administrative suspension in CLN's case. This meant CLN's driving privileges remained fully intact while Dennis litigated her case in court. CLN's second goal of avoiding a drunk driving conviction altogether was accomplished just 6 days before her scheduled jury trial, when Dennis convinced the prosecutor to reduce the original OWI charge to the minor traffic offense of Inattentive Driving. How? Among other factors, the prosecutor learned of another case Dennis successfully resolved in a neighboring jurisdiction--a case with far more difficult circumstances than CLN's--and believed he would not be successful in getting a conviction at trial, given the comparatively favorable facts in CLN's case. Rather than risk losing the entire case to Dennis at trial, the prosecutor agreed to drop the drunk driving charge. CLN paid a fine of $187.90, but otherwise suffered no consequences from this incident and never lost her license for a single day. Most importantly, CLN successfully avoided the life-altering stigma of being a convicted drunk driver.