Top Things To Do Upon Getting Arrested And Charged With A DUI
Call Several Attorneys In Order To Get a Consultation and An Estimate
When you’re charged with a DWI in New Jersey, one of the things that you’re going to want to do is get some information on how the system works after you’ve been released. In New Jersey, usually you’re not in the Police Department very long for a DWI arrest, but so much happens while you’re at the Police Department or prior to even being arrested that you need to discuss that with a qualified attorney who has done thousands of DWIs. Yes, you’re going to want to do some research and speak to various attorneys. What I do is, throughout the day and even on weekends, is take calls from people, set up appointments in my office, and do consultations, not only over the phone, but in person.
I provide an estimate of what it will cost if you wanted to hire me, so that you know exactly before going forward how much the fee will be. I would treat it almost like hiring any other type of professional: get consultations with at least two or three attorneys that you’d like to work with and see how you connect with those attorneys. See if they are answering the questions that you have, see if they are thinking about things that you’re not thinking about. But yes, the first thing to do is probably to get some control over your own case by getting information. As an attorney, I’m not only an advocate for my clients, but also an educator, so that my clients gain back the control that they had before they got arrested, because a lot of things happen that are beyond your control once you do get arrested.
Take Note of Potential Witnesses that Will Testify
In a lot of criminal cases, DWI cases in New Jersey, people are not arrested by themselves. Very often, in a DWI you have passengers. There could be even people that are passing by that you may know, and there might be other police officers that are present on the scene that also witnessed the event separate from the arresting officer. So you should make note of who those people are, and ordinarily, when I meet with somebody to do a consultation, one of the things I’ll want to know is who the potential witnesses are. I’m going to want to know the details of the case and the names and telephone numbers of the people that I can speak to that were there, if there were people with you, so that if it becomes beneficial to the case, I can speak to those people before going to court.
Get Your Car Out of Impound
In New Jersey, it’s usually easier than not, and usually you don’t an attorney to get your car out of an impound. What usually happens is that once you’re arrested, the police have your car towed to a local tow yard. After you’re released, you won’t be able to get your car immediately, but usually the very next day or the day after you’ll be able to, with proper identification, go down to the impound lot and retrieve your car. It usually does not take any additional assistance from an attorney to get your car out of an impound, so in my experience no attorney should be charging to assist somebody in getting their vehicle out of an impound.
Be Mindful of the DMV Hearing and Aware of the Dates to Make Sure to Secure All Documents Given to You
After you’re released from the Police Department in New Jersey, you should be given a series of documents. On a DWI case, you should be given summons of a ticket that charges you with DWI. Ordinarily, with a DWI, there are a variety of other summons; sometimes careless driving, speeding; it could be a whole host of other summons. Obviously you want to secure those and have those and bring them with you by the free consultation that I do, so that I have a better idea of the entire circumstance of the charges that you are facing. They may also supply you with a copy of the Alco-test results, which is a reading from your breath test.
Some police departments do provide it to you when you leave and if you do have that, it would be helpful, critical actually, to bring that with you on the free consultation that is available. Sometimes they don’t provide it, so if you don’t have it, you’re not to get upset or disappointed because it can be done through the regular discovery process. It’s okay if you don’t have it, but anything else such as any release paperwork should be brought to my office, so that I can review with you.
Start Noting Important Dates like Arraignments and Court Hearings, So that You Can Ask for the Day Off at Work
When you’re released, there is a date on the summons paperwork saying when you to go to court, and that should be looked at immediately, so that you can mark your calendar. Of course, when doing a consultation, one of the first two questions I ask besides your name and the telephone number is what court do you have to go to and what is the next court date. It’s important for my schedule, it’s important for your schedule, it’s important for your job, so it’s very critical to bring up this information right away. Some courts do allow, once an attorney is present, to get that first appearance postponed, but if some courts don’t, I’d have to know that right away and I’d have to contact the court. I like to go to that first appearance with the client if I’m available. As long as I get a letter of representation to the court prior to that first appearance, it’s usually not much of a problem. Other dates will come later on and a lot of times those dates are given while in court and sometimes they are communicated through the mail, so I like to stay in touch with my clients to make sure that we all have our calendars set up and that we make sure that we’re in court on time at any given court appearance.
Cooperate With the Attorney and Disclose Any Information that Might Help or Might Make Your Case Worse such as Past DUIs or Records
When I do a consultation, either over the phone or in person or both, I’m going to be asking a series of questions that are going to probably reveal most information that’s required. Since most of my new clients are strangers to me, the more forthcoming you are, the easier it will be for us to get along. When I say ‘get along’, I mean to have a positive outcome for your case. So, it is important that we get off on the right foot. When I say ‘on the right foot’, I mean sharing information; the more information you share with me, the better I can educate you as to the process and as to the potential outcomes. One of my standard questions is, “Are there any prior DWIs or any prior criminal record that may affect this case?” Those things usually come out in the process, but it’s also important that that be revealed to me during the course of the consultation in person or on the phone.
Refrain From Any Discussion on Social Media Sites Such as Facebook and Twitter
I certainly would not post anything about the events leading up to or during or after the arrest on any social media; Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. It certainly is conceivable and possible that a prosecutor’s office, prosecutor or police officer could get a hold of that information – and remember you have a right to remain silent, but anything you say on Facebook could be used against you. That’s not a constitutional warning, it’s good advice to keep your communications private. Any communication with me, of course, is confidential. Nothing on social media is confidential. The better part of advice is to simply not post anything about the event leading up to, during or after on any kind of social media.
To Maintain Regular Contact With Your Attorney as a General Rule of Thumb
One of the biggest problems that attorneys and clients have is a lack of communication. What I try to do is set up kind of a rack system where every case that I have that needs attention, immediate attention, gets put into my rack. The rack is essentially a visible section in my office where I have every single file that needs attention, and any time I give attention to that file like speaking to a prosecutor, speaking to a DA, or sending out an important letter, I try to contact the client and let them know what the status of their case is. It’s not a perfect system, so it’s a two-way street.
Clients are certainly encouraged to contact their attorneys, “Hey, what’s going on?” Hopefully, you don’t have to do that with me, but sometimes I get busy. It’s good to check in and say, “Hey, what’s going on, what’s the latest in my case?”, or “I didn’t really understand the last time you spoke to me about that, can you just re-explain that to me?” Emails, obviously, are helpful. Texts are fine, but it’s hard to communicate with texts other than, “Hey, can you give me a call?” People do expect a little more from texting than I can provide, usually because I tend to explain things with many words as opposed to just a simple text that might limit me, but staying in touch is critical and it is a two-way street. I encourage our clients to stay in touch and ask questions. That goes a long way in the relationship.
Refrain From Alcohol or Drug Related Activity, Especially Those That Might Get You Arrested Again
I’ve handled many cases through the years where clients have pending DWIs or pending criminal charges. Unfortunately for them, they get rearrested on something and, of course, it complicates the first case or the second case; it doesn’t change the facts of it, it just changes the leverage that you may have in resolving it. There are many marijuana cases that I deal with in the State of New Jersey that may be referred over to applying for a conditional discharge.
Eventually, the person might be tested to make sure that they don’t have any drugs in their system, so if you have a marijuana arrest, then you may be applying for a conditional discharge. You would be well advised to refrain from ingesting any marijuana from the time you get released from your case, for ever, theoretically, since it is illegal. So, that could be a problem for people. But, yes, I would recommend refraining from anything that would complicate your leverage on your original case.
Consult Your Support System, Whether they Be Family Friends or a Group, in Order to Keep a Positive Outlook on Your Situation
What I find is that when I do a consultation or I get hired on a case, usually people say to me, “Oh, I feel much better now that I have spoken to you.” The reason for that is usually because I have listened and supplied information that is educational in nature and gives the person a clear path as to what the process is about. But there are other people in people’s lives who can be helpful and useful to talk to. Those other people in your life, your support system, can also get you to think about things that you didn’t ask the lawyer in the first place. They could also be used as the source or a resource to help you think about question that you didn’t have originally that the attorney can certainly answer. Certainly, sharing some of these problems with your inner circle could lead to you feeling better about how the case goes during the time that you’re fighting it and even ultimately as it resolves.
Depending on the Situation, Explore Options for Transportation and Make Any Necessary Preparations to Get Around from Point A to Point B While Legally Unable to Drive
In the State of New Jersey, when you’re arrested for a DWI, you maintain your privileges to drive during the case. In the event that you do lose your license, either through a plea bargain or after a trial, it’s a little late at that point to try to figure out how you are going to get where you need to go – and since the case will last anywhere from a couple of months to several months, there is no reason not to start exploring your options of transportation as you explore how you’re going to defend your case. So, since New Jersey does not have any conditional licenses for people to get to and from work, to and from school, to and from medical appointments, it’s really imperative that people take a look at what their options may be if, in fact, they do wind up getting their license in New Jersey suspended.
Look For or Seek Out Financial Options if Money Becomes an Issue; Taking Out a Loan or Borrowing Money from Family Might be Something to Consider
Money is always an issue whether you have it or you don’t, but money has to come up in the conversation when being represented by an attorney. The best way to handle it is to find out from the attorney what he charges. Find out from the attorney what additional fees there may be such as experts if they need to be hired, what that would cost, what the fines would be if you were to be found guilty of this or some other offense, and what other collateral financial obligations you may have, such as to the Department of Motor Vehicle.
What I try to do is I try to let my clients know as early in their proceedings as possible as to their potential liability, and when it comes down to my fee, I try to work with people. I have many people who successfully complete payment plans, as long as there is a reasonable retainer upfront and a promise to pay. We enter into a formal, written, signed retainer agreement and it usually works out just fine. If you ask for a payment plan, for the most part I do enter into those. So, it could be very useful to just simply ask.
Take Account Of Medical Conditions that You Suffer From, if Applicable, Because it Could Help Your Case
It’s usually a part of my consultation to ask whether there are any medical conditions that might affect the way that the arrest processing occurred. It could be very important, especially in any traffic case and especially in any DWI case. Why it’s so specifically important to a DWI is because there are physical tests that people take, there is the breath test, and there may be field sobriety tests that require a certain amount of physical activity. If you have problems with your knees, your back, your feet, your neck, your eyes, there is a whole host of things that can have a significant impact on the way these tests are scored. So it’s usually part of my initial consultation, but it’s good to have clients thinking about that when they make the first call, because I will be asking about that either in the consultation on the phone or at my office.
Make Sure to Attend Any Functions, Information Sessions and/or Classes that Your Attorney May Recommend to You.
On certain occasions, there may be certain things that I would ask you to do. It’s rare, but there are certain instances where that might be part of a pretrial activity. I certainly encourage clients to understand what I am suggesting and to make sure that they carry it out.
Refrain From Answering Any Questions if Contacted By a Police Officer, Detective, Insurance Adjusters etc., and Instead, Contact Your Attorney Immediately
This comes up in a whole host of situations where you might be contacted by a police officer or a detective. I don’t want to say too much about the insurance adjusters since it could have an impact on your insurance policy but that’s something I would talk to you individually about. If a detective and/or a police officer wishes to speak to you, the best thing to do is to get on the phone with an attorney and have the attorney speak to the police officer and/or detective; depending on the situation, either decline to make any statement to the police officer or detective or make an appointment with the attorney to go with you to meet with the member of the Police Department. Those are very case-specific; I have gotten many calls with regard to that, and every case is very different. We would have to talk about that in great length, usually in person.
Take The Charges Seriously, Even if it’s Your First DUI
DWIs or DUIs in the State of New Jersey are serious, they are complicated and they are also defendable, so walking into court and simply pleading guilty without the advice of an attorney is not advisable. Walking into court and saying, “Oh, I am simply going to defend myself and go to trial” is not advisable, since you are probably not going to be aware of a lot of the rules of evidence or even of the discovery rules what you’re entitled to; even though you have the right to represent yourself having the ability to do so is another matter. Representing yourself on a DWI charge is very different from a simple two-point ticket.
There is a lot of science involved, and there are a lot of discovery issues involved. Of course, there is a prosecutor there who is a trained, experienced attorney who is going to know how to handle the case, and you’re at a distinct disadvantage. It’s like having a catch with somebody who is a professional baseball player and expecting to be able to throw the ball as fast or hit the ball as hard, it’s just not going to be a fair fight.
Expect a Tough Battle Even if it’s a Situation that Involved Prescription Medications
Prescription medications have become extraordinarily popular. There are some people that are driving while under the influence of prescription medications, so those types of cases are becoming more and more common and also they pose their own challenges. I would certainly get in touch with an attorney regarding anything that involves prescription medication.
Seriously Consider Hiring An Attorney If It’s Not the First DUI
If it’s not your first DWI in the State of New Jersey, that means you have already gone through at least one of them. Whether you did the first one with or without an attorney, you know how challenging it could be. A second DWI does carry mandatory jail time, a third DWI carries a six-month mandatory jail sentence if convicted. So you’re getting into an area where it could affect not only your livelihood, but also your liberty. I would certainly consult with an attorney, probably more than one, and certainly have somebody represent you on that second or third, or whichever that may be, DWI. Take it seriously; obviously it is serious, and you’re going to want to speak to at least one attorney before deciding on who will represent you.