Do we pursue the public defender or hire an attorney? Will the outcome be the same no matter what? I have no idea what our next steps should be - I am not familiar with the legal system. I expect him to have consequences - just looking for a course of action that will make sense under the circumstances.
Sorry to read of your son's situation -- the good news is he can overcome this mistake.
Where was your son cited? if it was in Mesa County, find a Mesa County criminal defense attorney that works in the field of DUI work. Thre are many good public defenders out there, but the use of the public defender's services is not automatic -- you must qualify through a showing of indigency. A private criminal defense attorney would be the choice if I was making it.
If your son was cited in Denver or thereabout, there are many excellent DUI attorneys that use this AVVO website. Rhidian Orr, John Buckley and Andy Contaguglia come to mind. Find one of them to see if you can get your boy the help he needs.
Best of luck to you all.
You should speak to a few attorneys and get an idea of what they will charge to handle your sons case. You want to make sure any attorney you speak to is experienced with DUI defense, police training and procedure, and understand the scientific methods behind the tests your son might have taken. Public Defenders are well trained and are well qualified to defend your son, but they often lack the training in police procedure necessary to diagnose all the weaknesses in the case. Former prosecutors often have this additional knowledge of police procedure. Some former prosecutors, like myself, have even trained the police to make proper DUI stops and arrests. This experience may be helpful. Finally, many attorneys offer free initial consultations. ask before you set up a meeting if they do.
Hope this helps.
You definitely need an attorney. If it is a first offense and the DA is not seeking jail, your son might not qualify for a Public Defender and may need to hire his own attorney. The outcome will not necessarily be the same. I was a judge for 7 years and a prosecutor for 7 years. Prosecutors are supposed to make the same plea bargain offers and judges are supposed to sentence the same whether someone has an attorney or not. However, that is seldom the case. Attorneys can advise your son what to do- start alcohol classes early, start UPS early, find problems in the DA's case, etc. - that could not be done without an attorney. Expect alcohol classes, a fine, UPS hours, and plenty of court costs plus a one year probation.
Your son needs the best DUI attorney he can afford. A criminal conviction for DUI or DWAI is a lifelong offense in Colorado and can never be sealed or expunged. It will also have severe consequences to his driving privileges, insurance, criminal record, future employment, etc.
If you cannot afford private counsel then you should absolutely have him apply for the Public Defender. Colorado's public defender system is one of the best in the country. Keep in mind that the PD cannot represent him at the DMV so that will have some negative collateral consequences.
No one here can predict an outcome or answer your questions about what the outcome will be, but the best advice we can give you is to shop around, take advantage of Free Consultations and then hire the attorney you feel the most comfortable with and that your family can afford.
Best of luck to your son.
The answer is a bit complicated. The specific facts of the case matter a lot. There are many types of DUIs that require an attorney to have focused upon the science to be able to mount an effective defense. And frequently there are defenses to these cases that non-DUI attorneys miss.
There are many very good public defenders out there. If the case is a refusal or a no drive defense, public defenders can often try the case very well. On the blood or breath test cases, it is hard for an attorney with the caseload that they often carry to master the necessary science and procedure to effectively defend the cases. This is my personal experience from my time as a public defender before I went into private practice.
I would always recommend talking to a DUI attorney. You can tell a DUI attorney by their familiarity with the roadside tests, the machinery surrounding breath tests, and the science behind blood tests. Many DUI attorneys also belong to DUI specific organizations like the National College for DUI Defense and are certified to perform roadsides or operate machines. There are certainly some very qualified DUI attorneys who do not, but the above is a positive sign.
Many DUI attorneys give free consultations. This would help your son understand his rights and options.
Best of luck to you and your son.
If the facts of your son's arrest fit a certain pattern then the Mesa County District Attorneys will typically agree to a sentence along a pre-established continuum. However, he first needs an attorney to review the evidence to determine if there were errors or omissions during or after your son was ticketed. There are many things to consider that are too numerous to mention here. Also, your son is on a short time line for his DMV hearing (completely separate issue from his Court citation and appearance). This hearing will determine if he loses his license and if so, how he can work to regain it.
Public defenders are good, quality attorneys. Their office very competitive to get good people, and they do get them.
However, typically, public defenders have a very high case load, so your son will not get the same time and attention from as from a privately retained attorney.
Will the outcome be the same no matter what? No. Your son will not likely get the same hand-holding in his case as he would with a private attorney. This translates into the potential for your son to make different choices with different attorneys, such as whether he is going to trial, or pleading guilty pursuant to a plea bargain. Many DUI cases end the same, and the lawyer is the one to analyze the case and provide an opinion on which to make your son's decision.
No guarantee exists to ensure a private attorney would do a better job or provide a better outcome, and private attorneys are not cheap. However, if you want to have an hour long meeting, or several hour long meetings with a public defender over a DUI case, you may be disappointed.
If you have the resources, hire a private defense attorney. If you don't have the resources, request that a Public Defender be appointed. Without an attorney, your son runs the risk of having to suffer the full legal consequences of DUI. An attorney can negotiate a plea with the District Attorney that will have some consequences, but will avoid the harshest penalties. Often first time DUI offenders will have to pay the fines, have restricted driving privileges, either no driving or a test unit installed in their vehicle, and attend alcohol counseling and driving school. Unfortunately, a DUI proceeding is expensive, and a qualified criminal defense attorney can be of tremendous assistance.
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