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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 27133
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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My 25 yr old daughter, was convicted of a DUI, did 10 days

Customer Question

my 25 yr old daughter, was convicted of a DUI, did 10 days in jail, had a restricted license for a year which came to an end in January2016. Last week, she was caught driving w/ an illegal state inspection sticker. She has since gotten an legitimate inspection done on her car, and is her car passed. Her court date is May. Was told, for first offense, max of $500. For second offense, max $2500. and max 1 year in jail. Is being caught w/ the illegal sticker considered her second offense, with the DUI being the first?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.


No. For purposes of the statute, this would constitute the first time your daughter drove with an illegal sticker. So the fine should max out at $500, not including court costs.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Awesome, is there any reason why she should have a lawyer?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Also we are in Virginia
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.

I saw that she was in Virginia.

Yes, there's a reason for a lawyer.

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.

This charge is a misdemeanor charge. In the best case scenario, a lawyer may be able to get the case dismissed with proof that her car now has been inspected and has a lawful sticker.

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.

In the worst case scenario, she can show up and find there's an additional misdemeanor charge added to her case for fraud and/or the forgery of a government sticker. That would be a more serious charge for which she could do up to a year in jail. A fraud offense on a criminal record can severely hinder someone professionally, even on a misdemeanor level.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
But I thought that bcuz this is the first time she was caught w a stolen sticker it was a first offense, so no threat of jail
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.

I am not saying she'll go to jail. I'm saying she could end up charged and convicted of a fraud or forgery offense. And that's a reason to pay a lawyer, even if without one, all she'd have to do is to plead guilty to it and pay a fine. Driving with a counterfeit inspection sticker is a low level misdemeanor which can give her a criminal record, even if she just pays the fine.

Additionally, the state could add a more serious forgery or fraud count to her docket and she'd be unprepared for that possibility if it happens and she's without a lawyer. It's that charge which would be a more serious charge which could theoretically result in a jail sentence. I use "theoretically" because jail, though possible for a forgery charge, would be highly unlikely.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
you are saying that the judge COULD decide to add fraud and sentence her to jail. Even if she has a lawyer at her side, if the judge sentences her to jail, there is nothing he/she could do to stop that.
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.

No. That's not how the system works.

What I'm saying is that the PROSECUTOR could have already added an additional charge to her docket for her to be arraigned on. She's already facing a misdmeanor in the third degree, but depending on the facts and circumstances of the case, the prosecutor could choose to go after her for something more serious. The judge has nothing to do with that. How the case is charged is the prosecutor's call.

Your daughter doesn't have to take a plea to anything. And if she doesn't do that, she doesn't get sentenced unless she goes all the way to trial and loses. If this isn't something that you or she realized, then that's all the more reason for her to show up with a lawyer.

In a perfect world, she'll be able to come out of this without a criminal record, but her best chance of that is with a lawyer.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
What do you mean by, "to take a plea"
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.

She's being charged with a crime. Driving with a false inspection sticker is a CRIME, even if the prosecutor doesn't add any other charges. Driving with a false inspection sticker is a third degree misdemeanor for which on a first offense, the maximum possible penalty is a $500 fine.

When one faces misdemeanor charges, one has two broad choices. The first is to fight the case all the way to trial. The second is to enter a plea of guilty and end the case. Entering a plea of guilty to this charge will give her a criminal record. If she doesn't want that, she is better off with a lawyer. A lawyer should be able to negotiate something with the prosecutor which can keep this conviction from being on her record.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I understand. One last question then, doesn't she already have a criminal record for the DUI, for which she blew .27
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.

Yes, she does. And if she doesn't want to protect her record further, that's a choice she can make. However, what's short term most convenient can still be long-term unwise.

The DUI is a more serious criminal offense. But people see alcohol issue as a medical problem. People see a fraud/forgery/theft conviction as poor moral character due to a lack of honesty. So even though this particular offense is a much lower level offense than the DUI, it can still cause lifetime repercussions, particularly on the employment front.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
My daughter asked, firstly if someone runs a background check, does it explain that the charge of fraud was for a stolen sticker, or does it only say fraud. Second, if she pleads guiltycan the prosecution still raise a charge of fraud/ forgery? If so at this point can she ask to have a lawyer?
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.

The section of the law under which she was convicted as well as the title of possession and use of a counterfeit inspection sticker would appear on her record.

She'll be arraigned on the charge(s) when she appears in court. That is, the charge or charges will be read into the court record and she'll be asked how she pleads. At that point, she can plead not guilty and ask if there's an offer from the prosecutor. If she likes the offer she can then plead to it and accept the offer. If she doesn't like the offer, she can try to negotiate a better offer with the prosecutor or ask the court for a continuance to come back on the next date with a lawyer.

Once she pleads anything but NOT GUILTY, she's got a conviction and can't negotiate her deal. So she needs to plead not guilty first and see then what the prosecutor will do for her. Only then, if she's happy with the promised deal, should she take her not guilty plea back and enter a plea of guilty to get the promised sentence.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
she can plead guilty, but after that if the prosecutor goes for additional charge of fraud/ forgery, she can then change her plea to not guilty, can ask for a lawyer at this point, and go home to then return w a lawyer on the assigned date?? Also will the prosecutor be permitted to bring up her past DUI in the courtroom or will both the judge and prosecutor, already be aware of the DUI?
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.

That's not what I said.

She must plead NOT GUILTY at her arraignment and then find out what the deal is before she pleads guilty.

You can take back your not guilty plea to enter a plea of guilty, but it doesn't work the other way around. Once you plead Guilty you have convicted yourself and you stand ready for sentence. You have no right to take your guilty plea back and you can't count on a judge letting you do it.

If at any point along the way she doesn't understand what's going on, she can let the judge know she thinks she'd better have a lawyer and ask for a new date to come back with one.

Yes, the prosecutor can bring up her past DUI in the courtroom, however both the judge and the prosecutor will have a copy of her record in the court papers and can also see it for himself.