Don’t Rely on Numbers to Choose a DUI Lawyer
HOW TO CHOOSE A DUI LAWYER IN GEORGIA
One of the most frequent questions I am asked by potential DUI clients is: What are my chances of winning my DUI case? My answer is predictable and, in typical lawyer fashion, too vague to be useful: Well, it all depends on what the evidence shows. So, the prospective clients follow-up with a sound question: What is your win percentage in DUI cases?
This is the percentage that really seals the deal for most clients, but I want to be clear about how completely useless these figures are. It should also be clear that any lawyer who has any semblance of common sense can make this figure whatever they want. A client that really takes the time to understand the process that a criminal case undergoes will understand that statistics are no way to choose a lawyer.
What is a “win” to one person may not be a “win” to another person. By playing with the definition of a win, a lawyer can easily include in the “win” category what I would define as a loss. What if the “win” for the lawyer included a guilty plea to DUI with no jail time on “run-of-the-mill” .083 DUI charge for a driver over 21 years of age? I can’t imagine calling that a win, but I am sure that some lawyers out there do.
Another point of confusion exists in what clients think a dismissal of the charges is and what lawyers define a dismissal of the DUI charges as. When prospective DUI clients speak of a dismissal, they generally believe that a dismissal means that the charge goes away with no penalties imposed upon them. However, when lawyers speak of dismissal of DUI charges in Georgia, this generally includes dismissals with a plea to a non-DUI offense. Generally, most clients will still suffer some penalties (fines, probation, community service, substance abuse evaluation, etc.) with the plea to the non-DUI offense. This confusion arises from the fact that under Georgia law reckless driving or any other non-DUI offense is not a lesser included offense of DUI, so in order for a plea to a non-DUI offense to be entered, the DUI must be dismissed.
The point is this: There is no accepted definition of a “win” in a Georgia DUI case. Most people think that a “win” is when a lawyer goes in and presents the case to a judge or jury, and his client is found not guilty. Contrary to this thinking, most lawyers define a “win” much more broadly to include negotiated resolutions (which really means “pleas”). I am not here to say that negotiated pleas are not a great resolution for many clients. They very well may be, but what I know is that what clients consider a win, particularly in the DUI lawyer interview process, and what lawyers consider a win are usually 2 very divergent things. Buyer beware: It is common sense, but past results are in no way indicative of what will occur in your case.
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