The Worth of Writing a letter to the Judge for a DUI charge

Written by James Hirby | Fact checked by The Law Dictionary staff |  

On one point, the non-expert people seem split on writing a letter to a judge or having others write character witness letters to the judge.  Some say definitely do it as it will help, some say do not as it will not make a difference, and some say why not, it cannot hurt the cause.   No experts were found overtly saying to do it, but some experts did have templates and suggestions on letters, personal to the judge and witness letters to the judge.  Sincerity, honesty, willingness to prove one’s sincerity, all to obtain a lesser penalty as to lessen the impact of the guilt on one’s life, is the goal.  A judge has seen and heard way too much in the way of “sorry” because the person does not want to be accountable.  Showing a willingness to be accountable, in words, is the challenge.

On a second point, the grave concern that a conviction will doom the person’s application to medical school needs further exploration.  Many suggest asking a lawyer to inquire at the person’s school(s) of choice to mask the applicant.  The question to ask appears to be what impact a DUI misdemeanor will have if within the past year, or two.  Also, ask the same question if the DUI conviction is a felony conviction.

On a third point, many where frankly amazed that the person was facing a DUI felony for what is assumed to be a first offense.  This included experts as well as experienced people.  On this point each state has its own statute on what criteria makes a DUI a felony versus a misdemeanor.  Most often the statute identifies the criteria for a felony, and everything else that is not yet at the level of a felony is considered to be a misdemeanor.  Every state varies, but every state allegedly makes it clear what rises to the level of a felony.

Back to the DUI case itself and the petitioning of the judge.  In most states the current approach to DUI law and rulings is to remove the subjectivity around categorization and penalties.  States, being strongly and relentlessly pressured by anti-drinking groups, are moving towards stricter, mandated penalties.  This gives a judge less and lessening leeway when it comes to categorizing a DUI, as well as applying penalties.  The categorizing of the DUI is becoming stricter, with the move towards lessening the criteria for a DUI to be categorized as a felony.  Currently, most states reserve felony to repeat offenders, or initial cases with severe impairment, severe damage, obvious disregard for life or property, or death.  It is a cruel lesson to learn as a DUI conviction, even if “only” a misdemeanor, it will mess up a person’s life, at least in the relative short term of up to five years.  Part of the messing up is a person’s job, or career, or plans for school and a career.  Great is a person survives the experience, even better if no one was hurt and no damage was caused.  But, the consequences are rarely ones that an individual can absorb easily.  The conviction exists on criminal records, for the most part, “forever”.  Even if expunged, a “hard inquiry” will find it.

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