07 September 2012

Local Attorney

It is a good rule to hire a local attorney if you are charged with a crime. The perfect example of what not to do occurred yesterday in Jasper County. A young women was charged with OWI 1st offense. She had engaged a Cedar Rapids attorney to represent her. She pled guilty and requested that her two day jail sentence be credited by attending a weekend drinking driver class. First, we do not have the weekend OWI class as an alternative in Jasper County; and secondly, our local judge wouldn't allow it even if we did. Merely asking for the weekend drinking driving school irritates the local judge. This was the first mistake that the out-of-town attorney made. Unfortunately she had had a deferred judgment on a previous OWI. Unbeknown to the out-of-town attorney, again, when a person has a previous charge of OWI and whether deferred or not, our local judge more often than not sentences the defendant to seven days in jail, not the standard two for a first offense. So not only was the defendant expecting to be able to do her two days in a weekend OWI class, but she was expecting to do two days--not seven which she received. The out-of-town attorney also requested that mittimus issue later also being ignorant of the fact that our local judge makes all defendants go directly to jail from the courtroom when sentenced to jail. All of this was a great shock to the young woman and her attorney who, I'm sure, was mortified that he had not properly prepared his client for her fate. If you do hire an out-of-town attorney to handle a local criminal matter, it is advisable for your attorney to at least consult with a local attorney on what to expect from the local judge. Fewer surprises that way.