Wednesday, April 18, 2012

April 4, 2012: Client Sentenced to One Year in the County Jail with Work-Release in OWI-Homicide Case

In the field of drunk driving defense, there is no more serious charge than OWI-Homicide. With potential imprisonment of 25 years and a fine of up to $100,000.00, the stakes literally can't get any higher. In the vast majority of cases where people are convicted of such a charge, they receive a prison sentence, typically a long one. On the rare occasion when someone is lucky enough to get a non-prison sentence, it is usually a case where the victim was a close friend or family member of the accused and the victim's family is supportive of the defendant. In cases, however, where the victim was a stranger and the surviving family is out for vengeance, a lengthy prison term is a near certainty. It was the latter situation that our client, RAP, tragically found himself in.

Accused of driving off the road a considerable distance, damaging several road signs in the process, RAP ultimately lost control of his vehicle, fully crossed the centerline and struck another vehicle. The driver of that vehicle was killed instantly. On top of all that, RAP's blood test showed an alcohol level of .19. When the case landed on the prosecutor's desk, he took a very hard-line position. He wanted RAP to go to prison for 10 years, despite the fact that RAP had no prior record of any kind and was extremely remorseful. What's more, the victim's family members wanted an even longer sentence, the maximum the law allowed. At the age of 60, RAP thought his life, as he knew it, was over. Judges have a long history of handing down very harsh sentences in cases just like this.

Fortunately, Dennis Melowski has a well-established track record of obtaining remarkable results in the toughest of cases. Dennis understands that some cases are won at trial and others are won at sentencing. Although RAP had a very difficult set of facts to present to a jury, he had a very compelling set of facts to present to the judge at sentencing. With this in mind, Dennis carefully crafted his plan. After getting RAP enrolled in a well-regarded treatment program, Dennis also solicited the support of countless friends, co-workers and family members to provide character references on RAP's behalf. In addition, several expert sentencing consultants (including a former employee of the State prison system) were retained to provide insight to the judge about the innovative sentence Dennis was suggesting and why it would accomplish so much more than just locking RAP up and throwing away the key.

At the conclusion of the sentencing hearing (which lasted several hours) the judge was so convinced by Dennis' arguments that he did what is almost unheard of in a case like this. Not only would RAP not receive a long prison sentence, the judge decided that he would not receive a prison sentence at all. Instead, RAP was ordered to spend 12 months in the local county jail, with full work-release privileges. This meant that RAP would only be spending his nights in jail. The judge also said RAP could be released on electronic monitoring (the "bracelet") for the last 3 months of his sentence, meaning for the last 3 months RAP will be in his own home. With this stunning sentence, RAP kept his job as an electrician and gets to see his wife every day. RAP's life, as he knew it, was saved. He couldn't possibly be any happier.