I was charged with my third DWI in August 2006, and served 3 1/2 month in county jail. Upon my release I was sentenced to 5 years probation, and completion of a one year out-patient program. I was told I would have to report to probation 2x a month for six months and then monthly for the next six months, then every three months there after. I am still reporting to my probation officer 2x a month. Then I violated probation on 9/08 for being discharged from my out-patient group after completing 7 months. The violation is still on going in court, and legal aide is not helping me at all. I am on the verge of having a nervous breakdown. I am now being treated for depression, and have a court date for 6/11/09. I need to know my rights and if I can change lawyers. Any advice would be helpful.
First, I do practice in Suffolk County, NY where your case is pending and you do have a right to another attorney, however, not necessarily another court appointed attorney or different Legal Aide Attorney. If you don't feel your present attorney is doing what's best for you, then hire your own. If you do hire your own attorney, then make sure its an experienced attorney who has handled your type of case in Suffolk County.
You have the right to a contested probation violation hearing. Generally, these hearings are brief and hearsay is often admissible; this means that your probation agent could be the only witness against you and he/she may be allowed to testify to what they have been advised. The standard of proof is usually pretty low for these hearings, (not proof beyond a reasonable doubt). Lastly, there is no right to a jury trial. I am a little bit at a loss as to what exactly you think your assigned counsel should be doing for you. If you have been unsatisfactorily kicked out of your required out-patient group as ordered by the court it is difficult to imagine what it is your lawyer should be doing. If you are unhappy with your assigned attorney you are always free to hire a lawyer of your own choosing. You might also try to contact your assigned attorney and discuss the matter with him/her; but you need to keep in mind that legal aid attorney's carry a heavy caseload. Try to think of it this way if you want virtually unfettered access to your attorney than you are going to have to hire one for that kind of one-on-one service. I think if you discuss this matter with your attorney with an eye toward a plea agreement you will be better off as it doesn't sound like this is a case that you are going to beat unless you have an extremely good reason for getting removed from your therapy.
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