Should I get a lawyer for first time DUI?
In the state of Rhode Island, a first time DUI (Driving Under the Influence) charge with no injuries tends to be a misdemeanor. Even though the charge may be a misdemeanor the charge is still a criminal offense and can result in imprisonment for up to one (1) year and hefty fines that vary depending on whether it is your first or subsequent alcohol-related offense. Along with the fines and possible time imprisoned, there are many processes within the court system that could become confusing and overwhelming to people who are not versed with or work within the criminal justice system. Therefore, it is advised, and within your rights, for you to have a lawyer to represent you in court and help avoid any misunderstandings that may arise with the case. If you do not have a lawyer the courts will appoint one to your case, though it is advised to talk to and try to hire a private lawyer that may be not court appointed. This may be a better fit for your case and the lawyer will be with you to fight for you from arraignment all the way to possible appeals for the case. Also, when you hire a lawyer, they will be more versed and familiar with the legal system than you may be, which will help ease any confusion and stress when dealing with the legal system. The lawyer may also be able to conference with the prosecution to possibly work out a deal which could help with keeping you out of jail, minimizing fees and fines, and possibly lessening the chance of additional charges that could stem from the case that you are currently dealing with. Experience lawyers may be able to find issues on the case that may mitigate possible fines or penalties, including possible jail time. Some factors an attorney may look for are reasonable suspicion, any video of the person at the scene or at the police department, possible issues with the breathalyzer test, any discrepancies with on the scene sobriety tests, or any other discrepancies that may arise from the case that an attorney may be able to recognize and bring to the attention to the judge or prosecution. An attorney will also be able to conference with the prosecution to discuss the matters of the case such as allowing a hardship license if you need to drive to and from work or bring your child to and from school. In addition to discussing hardship licenses with the prosecution and the judge, the attorney may be able to convince the prosecution to amend the charge for a lesser penalty, for instance instead of one (1) imprisonment the attorney may be able to negotiate parole or even something called filing where the case is placed on hold for a certain amount of time if you do not get any more cases during that time frame then the case is expunged. There are no guarantees or promises that an attorney can make other than that they will work hard to provide the best legal representation they can and act in your best interests.