Thursday, May 21, 2015

May 7, 2015: An Absolutely Amazing Result in an OWI-7th Case (with .182 blood test result)

An OWI-7th is very serious business. It is at this level of offense that a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 years in prison kicks in. The judge has no authority to give anything less, under any circumstance. And 3 years is just the minimum. The sentence can be increased by several years if the judge thinks it's warranted. This was the dire situation that our client, ME, found himself in when he was picked up for his seventh time. Although it had been several years since his last arrest, and ME had made many positive changes to his life in the interim, that did nothing to lessen the severity of the penalties he was facing if convicted as charged. Knowing that such a lengthy prison sentence would effectively end his life as he knew it, he had to find the best possible attorney to do something about it. After hearing his name from several different people, ME called Dennis Melowski and hired him on the spot.

ME's preliminary hearing is where Dennis laid the groundwork for what would ultimately be the key to ME's outstanding resolution. While many attorneys (even some very reputable ones) routinely waive these hearings, our attorneys rarely do.* They can be very valuable, especially if you can catch a police officer off guard on a key point. ME's case is a textbook example of this. While delving into the reasons for the officer's initial encounter with ME, Dennis got the officer to admit that he approached ME shortly after he exited his vehicle because he believed the vehicle was illegally parked. Only Dennis knew the vehicle was not illegally parked. The officer had a mistaken belief of what the parking statute prohibited. Based on the officer's testimony, Dennis filed a motion to suppress all evidence in ME's case because he had been initially detained illegally...he had done nothing wrong to warrant police questioning in the first place. Dennis filed an additional motion to challenge one of ME's prior convictions based on problems Dennis and his team were able to unearth in a case that was nearly 24 years old.

After months and months of legal wrangling, hearings and negotiations, Dennis was able to negotiate a truly outstanding settlement for ME. Under the terms of the plea agreement, the original drunk driving charges were dropped. In exchange, ME plead no contest to a non-alcohol-related, non-traffic misdemeanor that will not even appear on ME's driver record. ME was simply placed on probation for one year and was ordered to pay a fine, but suffered no other penalties. He did not spend even one day in jail, much less prison, and completely avoided any license loss. It was about the best possible outcome ME could have hoped for and he is absolutely thrilled with the result.

*While there can occasionally be a valid strategic consideration for waiving a preliminary hearing, far too often we have seen lawyers do so for no apparent reason, other than convenience or fear of ruffling a judge's or prosecutor's feathers.  This is an example of what separates poor or average lawyers from exceptional ones. Exceptional lawyers are absolutely committed to leaving no stone unturned in the pursuit of their client's goals, even if  it means sometimes not being the most popular lawyer in the courtroom. Exceptional lawyering is what people have come to expect from our firm and it's what we aim to deliver to every client. Just ask ME.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Complete Dismissal in Fond du Lac County

SR was arrested for her second offense OWI.  The blood  test came back at .102.  Unfortunately, this occurred in Fond du Lac County where the District Attorney's Office has a strict policy of not amending OWI cases. The policy left the assigned prosecutor without an ability to do much other than slightly reducing the jail, fine and license revocation period.  This left SR and Attorney Matt Murray with an easy decision: fight the case.

Attorney Murray went to work and noticed that the arresting officer had made very minimal observations regarding any impairment before dragging SR out of the vehicle for a full-blown OWI investigation.  Attorney Murray filed a motion challenging whether or not the officer had the requisite reasonable suspicion to do this.

On the day of the motion hearing, the officer failed to show and the judge dismissed the case.  The District Attorney's Office then refiled the case with a different judge.  Attorney Murray filed the same motion and the officer failed to appear again.  As the judge said, "two times is too many" and the motion to suppress was granted.  Without any evidence remaining, the District Attorney's Office completely dismissed the case.

Sometimes you get lucky, but you will never know if you don't fight it.  SR is sure glad she did.  Another very happy client.