Previously, we began discussing the importance of working with experienced legal counsel in the sentencing phase of DUI defense cases. For those who have prior DUI convictions, a skilled advocate is necessary to help ensure that the judge handling their case stays within the just limits of judicial discretion and that their interests are zealously represented.
There are several ways an experienced advocate will work on behalf of a criminal defendant in the sentencing phase. Firstly, it is important for DUI defendants facing potential incarceration to ensure that the statutes governing sentencing computation are correctly applied, that any time spent in prison prior to sentencing is properly credited, and that parole eligibility is properly considered.
Secondly, sentencing has several purposes: to punish offenders; to ensure fair and consistent treatment by eliminating unjust disparities in sentencing; to deter future crime; and to promote rehabilitation and correction. Depending on the circumstances of the case, a skilled attorney can help a judge to make adequate and favorable consideration of these aspects of sentencing.
Thirdly, incarceration is not the only possibility for felony DUI offenders, and less imposing and more appropriate options should always be explored when appropriate. Probation may be a possibility for DUI, if the judge is willing. Judges look at a variety of criteria when determining whether probation is appropriate. These include: the risk of recidivism; the risk that a sentence of probation would undermine respect for the law; the chances for success in probation; the crime itself, the circumstances, the defendant’s criminal history and character; and especially mitigating factors in the case. The conditions of probation can vary, and here too the advocacy of an experienced advocate is important.
Regardless of the circumstances of DUI case, working with an experienced defense attorney is important to protect a defendant’s interests. This is especially true for repeat offenders, for whom more is typically at stake.