There are a number of tactics that an experienced Birmingham DUI lawyer could employ in order to have charges against clients significantly reduced or dismissed.
But if you ever have a lawyer who advises you to lie under oath, it's time to get a new lawyer. Not only is such action unethical, it's against the law. Even if you were simply following the advice of that attorney, you could still be held accountable for your words, as one Navy officer in New York is now learning.
Back in the late summer of 2011, the active-duty petty officer first-class was detained and arrested by a police officer who found him outside a nightclub, in his vehicle, which was running, while he had a blood-alcohol content that exceeded the legal limit of 0.08 percent. In most places in the country, this would give an officer probable cause to make an arrest.
However, a DUI conviction wasn't in the cards for this individual. The case went to trial before a jury. At that time, the sailor explained to the jury that he wasn't driving the vehicle. He was simply inside the vehicle to charge his cell phone. His friend, also a sailor, was his designated driver and he was still inside the club when the officer arrived. His Navy friend backed his claim in court.
The jury agreed that there wasn't enough evidence to convict the sailor of misdemeanor DUI, as prosecutors would have had to show that, at the very least, the sailor had the intention of driving while intoxicated. They didn't do that, and he was acquitted.
However, he's now facing eight felony counts of perjury. Prosecutors can't retry him on the DUI charge – he was already acquitted of that. But they say his claim that his friend was the designated driver was bogus, and that his friend wasn't even with him that night. His friend is also facing charges.
Prosecutors say the pair lied under oath, and that their actions could result in prison terms totaling 7 years each.
An attorney now representing the sailor says that he received some “terrible, terrible (legal) advice” and he unwisely followed it. He's now trying to make amends.
At this point, the lawyer who initially represented him isn't facing any criminal or professional sanctions, but that is certainly possible.
The defendant has pleaded not guilty, though it's possible a plea deal is in the works.
The especially sad thing about this case was that not only did this individual go from facing a maximum of one year in jail to a maximum of seven years in prison, but he likely wouldn't even have received the maximum sentence in the first place, if he had secured the services of a good attorney.
There are opportunities in which your lawyer might be able to have key evidence against you suppressed. In some cases, charges can be pleaded down to moving violations that won't have any significant impact on your permanent record.
As this case shows, there may be short-term gains to be made from deception, but in the long-run, operating within the rules of the system is the best way to ensure that once you close this chapter, you will be able to move on for good.
If you have been arrested for DUI in Birmingham, call Defense Lawyer Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.
Jury Believed Sailor's Story in D.W.I. Trial, but Now He Faces Perjury Charge, July 1, 2013, By Russ Buettner, The New York Times
More Blog Entries:
Designated Drivers Often Drunk, Study Concludes, June 25, 2013, Birmingham DUI Lawyer Blog