Recently, our office represented a criminal defendant who had been charged with 8 traffic citations: driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), driving under the influence of alcohol per se (DUI per se), driving while intoxicated by alcohol (DWI), failure to reduce speed on a curve, negligent driving of a vehicle in a careless and imprudent manner endangering property, life, and person, failure to obey designated lane directions, unsafe lane change, and failure to control vehicle speed on highway to avoid a collision in Montgomery County, MD.
Our client had caused a very serious accident on the capital beltway when his vehicle crossed the center line, striking another vehicle with such a high rate of speed that the other vehicle flipped over and came to rest on its driver’s side. Both occupants in that vehicle were injured as a result of the collision. When police arrived at the scene, a breathalyzer test was conducted and our client blew a .16 – two times the legal limit. He was facing up to one year in jail for each of the DUI citations, 60 days in jail for the DWI citation, and a total of $3,300.00 in possible fines.
When he came to our office, he was panicked, stressed, and worried not only about the severity of the citations, but also the potential immigration consequences a conviction would have. He was 38 years old, originally from Peru, and had just recently become a legal permanent resident (green card holder). He was scared to death that this one mistake would jeopardize everything he had worked so hard for.
Upon being retained, our criminal defense attorneys immediately began researching every possible defense the client might have as well as thoroughly discussing with him any mitigating factors that could be presented to the Judge during trial.
The day before the scheduled trial, the Assistant State’s Attorney handling this case notified our office that he intended to request a continuance because the occupants of the other vehicle were not available to testify in court the next day. The occupants of the other vehicle had been seriously injured, one even required surgery, and they were to be star witnesses for the State’s case.
Knowing how damaging the occupants’ testimony would be to our client, our attorneys worked diligently to convince the State’s Attorney that a continuance was not necessary and to negotiate a plea deal that would be in our client’s best interest. It was solely through the persistence and dedication of our criminal defense attorneys that this plea deal was reached.
Additionally, our criminal defense attorneys worked closely with our immigration attorneys to ensure that the plea deal would not have negative immigration consequences for our client.
In court, our client pled guilty to driving under the influence (DUI) and failure to control his vehicle’s speed on a highway to avoid a collision. All six (6) other citations were dismissed (a nolle prosequi was entered). The Judge ordered our client to pay only $478.00 in fines and court costs – less than 1/6 the total fines he was facing prior to our office’s involvement in the case.
Our client received no jail time – he was sentenced to probation before judgment with regards to the DUI citation. When a person is sentenced to probation before judgment, or PBJ for short, the guilty plea is struck from the record – it is as if it never happened. A PBJ is not a conviction, which means the person does not have to disclose it on job applications. Another benefit of a PBJ is that for certain crimes, such as DUI/DWI, once probation is successfully completed and the requisite period of time has passed, it may be possible to expunge the client’s record.
At the end of the trial our client expressed his sincere gratitude and thanks for the services our criminal defense, and immigration attorneys, were able to provide him.