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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 26739
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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I have been charged with an OWI and am going in for sentencing

Customer Question

I have been charged with an OWI and am going in for sentencing on April 11th, I want to avoid jail and the presentencing report recommended 180 days of jail. I own a business, I am going to school and am struggling with a mental disorder that I was diagnosed with in the military after a serious suicide attempt. I am an honorably discharged veteran and I just 'want the judge to know that I am taking responsibility for my offense and I really want treatment and to stay out of jail so I can continue my schooling and my business. Charges of alcohol have played a role in my life as I was self medicating and depressed. I want to be sincere and write a letter to my judge trying to push for no jail time and treatment like sobriety court. I don't know the best way to approach this and I just need some advice that will help me best with this offense. What should I put in this letter? I don't want to blame this on my mental disorder or make excuses because I know that will not help and will hurt my case. Please help I have been really struggling over thinking about this and am outreaching to whomever and whatever it takes to avoid that jail? Please and thank you
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 6 years ago.

Probation almost always recommends jail time on a pre-sentence report. It's one of the ways in which they cover their tail if the defendant violates. The judge need not pay any attention to probation's recommendation and can override their objections.

What was the promised sentence that was part of your plea?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

I did not receive a cop out or whatever you call it that the judge promises you if you plea guilty. I ended up getting a new attorney because the one that was hired by me was from a big law firm and I felt like she didn't care for me and just wanted to get it over with as quick as possible. I felt like I was forced into pleaing guilty and the attorney looked lost in court and as soon as my new charge was brought up and I got a 10,000 dollar cash bond no serutey I fired her as soon as I got out and my bondmen introduced me to a new attorney that I really feel like is doing the best for me and cares for me as a person not just a client. I am diagnosed as bi-polar and all my past offenses alcohol was involved and they all were in late fall and winter in Michigan. I was told by a couple psychiatrists that they think I have seasonal depression. I am an alcohol abuser, I am not reliant on the stuff and drinking on my bi-polar meds made my decisions worse and the first charge came and I kept self medicating and then got in an accident drunk and was taken to the hospital with blood drawn and concussed with 9 staples in my head. I then was taken to the va mental hospital for suicide ideation. I have been sober since Jan. 1st the night of the accident and moved back in with my parents because I have lost my license over this and my dad has been driving me around to all my appointments and attending AA with me for he is 3 years sober himself and use to be a serious alcoholic that would drink every day. That is not me though I abused and just kept digging myself into more depression and self medicating to make me feel better and now it has made me feel so bad with the reproccusions now that I am facing. I am scared for jail and I am scared for my life. Jail is punishment...I need treatment and to keep on my medications which they will not prescribe me there. I would much rather go inpatient then go to jail, but I don't want to delay the court proceedings and I really just want to end this. I know it is a set back, but jail is so terrible. I am such a good person at heart but my mental disorder and trouble is holding me back. Jail will take away a lot of things like school, my business, my treatment, my pride. Thank you for a quick response.

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 6 years ago.

I understand why you don't want to protract this matter any longer than you have to. If your lawyer is as good as you indicate, then he/she has made the court aware of all of your present illnesses and stressors, along with the fact that that you are presently in a sobriety court program and have begun to respond. It's a pretty harsh judge who would be willing to pull a defendant out of treatment if he's succeeding and mandate jail instead. I believe something can likely be worked out, if that hasn't happened yet.

Judges do not entertain ex-parte applications from defendants. By that I mean if you mail the judge a letter, he will not read it. But you can certainly prepare one and hand a copy to the judge in court on your sentencing day. Just show it to your lawyer first and he can show it to the prosecutor and hand it up to the judge. Basically, you've already said fairly eloquently why you should be allowed to remain in sobriety court if you pull them from previous posts: you have recognized that you can't fall back on your mental health issues as an excuse for what you've done. At the same time, you know you need treatment. You understand that you are entirely accountable for your actions and for the first time, with the help and support of your family and sobriety court, you have begun to get your act together. With treatment and the opportunity to maintain your business and continue your education, you believe you can become and remain a productive member of society.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
The thing is I am not in sobriety court at the time. This is what my lawyer wants to push for come sentencing on the 11th. The second offense I have court for on the 7th my final pretrial and have yet to plea on that case. I believe I am a productive member of society and am not a harm to society and at 26 years old I don't want a jail set back and lose my business over this. Reason why we are going to push for sobriety court because I know it is very strict, but to avoid jail I will do anything. I don't know if the probation department recommended the max sentencing to throw me into sobriety court because I am aware that some people will get like 20 days of jail and just do it to get it over with. I however, would take sobriety court over a couple days of jail just because I know I will not fail in sobriety court and I know it would keep me from any trouble. I want a family of my own and have so many goals for the future and just want to avoid jail. Whatever is offered other then jail I would take. I am a veteran, a business owner, a student, an uncle, a loving and caring person. I am not a threat to society I just been struggling with this mental disorder that holds me back at times, especially during the fall and winter months of Michigan. Sentencing for my first OWI is on April 11th and then I have to come up with a decision on what to do on April 7th with the other court. They passed that new law of super drunk if you are at a level of over .17 about a month before I got pulled over. I was always so against drunk driving and I was not in the mental state to know what I was doing at the time. It is just so hard on me and I know it will be a set back but I want a set back with no jail time, that is my main worry. They will not drop down to any other charge because they can't on these new super drunk tickets. I want to go into sentencing, get sobriety court and then hopefully that will then run concurrent with my other case and the judge hopefully wouldn't pull me out of that if I am doing good which I know I will. I think these past charges are really taking a toll on me too and not helping my case. I am going to accept your answer as soon as I get the information I need. My lawyer kind of already informed me of all this and I am trying to get some help on my letter to the Judge and just some additional advice I may not be aware of. I have a few letters of character, including family members and tomorrow I see a therapist to write a letter on my behalf and then I am going to get a letter from my psychiatrist and hopefully some sort of letter on behalf of the outreach program for legal issues they have for veterans. I just don't know about that program and was just mentioned about it on friday from someone from the Veteran Affairs. Sorry to take up your time, but I am just looking for a lot of advice and this is a pretty cool set up they have. I am a loyal person though and am not afraid to click on that green button. May I ask you what your qualifications are? Thank you so much
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 6 years ago.

My qualifications? I am a career public defender, having passed the NYS bar in 1988. I have handled literally thousands of criminal cases ranging from disorderly conduct on the one extreme to homicide on the other and dealt with all facets of each case from arraignment all the way through plea or trial. My background also includes two years of legal supervisory work as the primary defender in a Drug Treatment Court. I've been with JustAnswer about 2 years now.

In my own practice I have been able to effect dispositions whereby both counties in which arrests were pending agreed to the type of solution you are proposing. If your lawyer isn't handling both matters for you, then he ought to be coordinating this with the lawyer in the other county to make that come about. The least of your worries is probation asking for time. If you didn't have a serious problem to begin with, you wouldn't need sobriety court. Youve basically written your letter already, if you feel you need one. What you've said about your desire to work and change, especially the idea that you could take a much easier way out but choose not to because you know you need the help more and want that sounds like it comes from the heart, which is what you'd most need it to do.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I wish I knew about this site earlier. I have one attorney representing me on both matters. I just had to switch a couple times to find the right one who actually cares for me. We didn't really focus too much about my mental disability and he was going to await for sentencing for that. Probation you think would even be an option in this matter? I have prepared myself for jail in which I have set up direct withdrawals and deposits on my bank just in case. I have always been a pessimistic, but I know that I abuse alcohol and that is the main factor. I have three past disorderly person and two mip of alcohol before the military. Court is all about paper and they really don't judge the person on the character reason why I got such a high bond on that arraingment. All she did was read everything in my past. I wish it could just be a focus on the present and the future because I am a citizen that means well in this society. I got out of jail last year after spending three days in there on a probation violation from a disorderly person I was on probation for. As soon as I got out and went in front of the judge I told him I do not want to go back to the place. The next day I opened a shop, got a business license and was pretty succesful in running a business from scratch. I want and need to continue this. Now for a disorderly I got in October the therapist I was seeing never faxed over my paperwork to the court in a county three hours away. I was on non reporting for 4 months and then they extended it another 4 months found out about my dui and now they violated me and I have to appear there on the 13th. I just have been getting such bad luck and making poor decisions. The medication I was on tripled the effect the alcohol put on me and my decisions were totally irrational, but it was not me making those decisions. My family know and I know who the real me is. A kind hearted driven person and I just am kind of lost on what to do with all this.
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 6 years ago.

Probation is required to make a pre-sentence report to accompany dispositions like this. They are always very conservative. I only brought up probation because of your reference to it in your first question. I think youre a more appropriate candidate for a treatment court than for straight probaton.

I'm pleased to hear that you do have one lawyer on all matters. I think you have a real shot at getting what you want here, because nobody has said "no" yet except probation, who does not count really in this equation.

I wish you luck!

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