Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A good day for my speeding and marijuana clients

Had a good day the other day, handling three cases in two courts. For one speeding ticket client, I got a typical reduction from a high 6-point speed to a 3-point speed. Usually you hope for a little better but her driving record wasn't clean.

For the next client I made a big difference. I'm handling three high speeds for this particular client in three different courts. The speeds range from 95 to 101. My main concern here is getting at least one of the speeds reduced to something other than speed, even if it's a lot of points. You can save your license from points by taking defensive driving, but you can't save it from three speeds in 18 months.

My of-counsel got the 101 reduced to 80 mph a couple weeks ago. This is a big deal because a ticket at 15 over the limit should not affect insurance under Insurance Law 2335 (depending on the interpretation of "two or more violations of other statutes ..." in the last item on the list). It's also a big deal because judges and prosecutors get sticky at speeds over 100, and this reduction from 8 points to 4 is more difficult at such high speeds.

The 95 mph ticket is down the road, and has some other violations with it. Not sure we'll be able to get that one out of speed. I managed to get the 96 mph ticket out of speed by taking it to a 4-point moving violation (1129 - following too close). How? By being open and honest with both the prosecutor and the judge. A good attorney who has credibility with cops, prosecutors and judges can lay it out for them -- this is what I need, this is why I need it, and this is what we can do to get there. It helps when you're dealing with a reasonable prosecutor and a reasonable judge. This particular judge is one of the best judges around - experienced and a good listener.

It's probably surprising to see me refer to a "reasonable prosecutor". My concerns about prosecutors are mainly limited to criminal matters, especially felonies. Almost all prosecutors are reasonable when it comes to traffic cases. This is probably because of some or all of the following: (1) they speed too; (2) they've got bigger fish to fry; (3) there's too many cases and they just want to get home; and/or (4) they know it's just a revenue thing. Prosecutors are also generally reasonable on misdemeanors, mainly for reasons 2 and 3, above. When it comes to felonies some of them get more difficult. I don't like when that happens, but that's pretty much what the public wants I guess.

Turning to my marijuana client, he had a UPM (unlawful possession of marijuana violation) and a CPCS 7th (criminal possession of a controlled substance in the 7th degree) misdemeanor for psilocybin. This kind of case presents a particular problem that some defense attorneys might miss. If your client pleads guilty to any drug violation, they become ineligible for financial aid - forever (or until the law changes). This client is roughly 21, and is working now but may go to college at some point. Thanks (again) to a reasonable prosecutor and a fair judge (in a different county mind you), the client gets a disorderly conduct violation (aka dis-con).

And I handled all three cases in a span of roughly 2 hours, including a half-hour drive and an errand between courts.

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