Brown & Little, P.L.C. » Entries tagged with "probation"

Sucks Not Eating That Cake, Huh?

I covered a pretty amazing hearing recently. It wasn’t amazing because of anything I did. It was amazing because it perfectly showcased the disastrous impact of mandatory sentencing rules and a culture of punishment and cruelty not just on defendants, but on victims. The client was accused of taking money from a family trust. He was left out of it, but his cousins weren’t. He allegedly drained the trust using forged checks. At his first sentencing, the victims said how they weren’t going to get to go to college. He took their college fund, apparently, and now they had to take out student loans. At least one of them wanted to punish him with a long prison sentence. All of them wanted him to repay … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, Prosecutors, Victim's Rights

I Don’t

Forbes, and more recently Oliver Burkeman, have both discussed the important and interesting difference between “I don’t” and “I can’t” when it comes to breaking bad habits. They note that studies have actually shown that saying something like “I can’t eat that extra cookie” is far less effective at preventing you from eating that extra cookie than saying “I don’t eat extra cookies.” It works in all kinds of other areas too, apparently. Although both articles talk about why that is, each explaining in different ways how “I don’t” is a choice while “I can’t” is a restriction, neither touches on a potential deeper reason for the difference or explores its broader implications. Consider the implications about who the “you” is in the statement when you’re saying “I … Read entire article »

Filed under: Uncategorized

They Just Want Your Money

On Monday, I got to hear an elderly gentleman get sentenced for a first-time super extreme DUI (one where his blood alcohol concentration was over 0.20%) as I waited for the court to call my client’s case. He was so nervous he was shaking, and at one point, he begged the judge to not send him to jail. She told him something about how she would have to send her own brother for jail for that charge because the legislature set a mandatory minimum sentence. She also added a little comment about seeing people with a third of his BAC being involved in fatal collisions. How that could be the case seeing how she’s a misdemeanor court judge and doesn’t seem the type to go to … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, Government Rants

Real Change

For the first time in a little while, I left court this morning feeling like everything turned out okay. The whole experience was quite surprising, honestly. A lot of things could have gone wrong, but they didn’t. In most cases, even a positive result has some major downside. Not today. My client had absconded from probation long ago. He left the state and started a new life. There was nothing for him in Arizona but bad memories and worse influences. The new life he created for himself, on the other hand, was filled with stability, good people, and direction. He had been sober for a long time. He had a job and a support network. He finally knew what he wanted … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, Prosecutors

Trusting Judges

For most felony offenses in Arizona, a person sentenced to a term of probation can be ordered to serve up to a year in the county jail. When prosecutors intend to seek jail time as a condition of probation, they usually say so up front. If it’s a guarantee, the plea will say “defendant shall serve…” before describing the amount of time, whether it’s a deferred term, and whether the defendant gets credit for time served. In other instances where jail is possible, the plea will say “the state anticipates requesting an initial jail term” or something along those lines. Occasionally, the prosecutor changes his or her mind between plea and sentencing. They will also say so if that’s the case. Other times, the probation department’s presentence report … Read entire article »

Filed under: Judges

Great Expectations

Part of my fee agreement explains how my fee in each case is based in part on a variety of considerations, one of which is the expectations of the client. Many of the other listed factors, like the urgency of the matter and the necessity of declining other work, once seemed far more important to me. Over time, they have come to pale in comparison with client expectations. For the client who wants to walk, beating the main charge but being convicted of a lesser is a massive disappointment. It doesn’t matter if they’re avoiding a murder conviction in favor of a lesser charge or just beating the part of the DUI charge that would have made it a felony. Any conviction is a failure. It’s the same … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients

No Pie For You

Bad manners aside, sitting at the dinner table and yelling “bring me some pie!” at your significant other while pounding your fists is probably not a criminal offense. Should you happen to have a knife in one hand while you pound your fists, however, you may be in big trouble. Significant others don’t like angry demands for pie, I’m told, and as a criminal defense lawyer, I’ve met quite a few people whose significant others love calling the police for the most trivial things. The story the 911 operator hears will invariably be embellished, and in my example, the angry companion would probably claim you somehow threatened her with the knife. She would say how scared she was. When officers arrive and haul you off to jail, … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Statutes, Prosecutors

The Way They Think

I know a lot of nice prosecutors. I know prosecutors who care about justice. A few of them care about people too. Unfortunately, some of the other prosecutors I know don’t care much about anything except for hurting criminal defendants. The legislature gives them permission to ruin lives, and they relish the opportunity. One of my clients is charged with first-time DUI, and she has a very long history of medical problems. She’s had five back surgeries in the time I’ve represented her. She has to take special precautions just to make it through a day of work, and she sees doctors pretty much constantly. Spending a lot of time in jail would be disastrous for her health. I obtained documentation from medical … Read entire article »

Filed under: DUI, Prosecutors

Not Just Bad TV

Earlier in the week, I watched a TV program I wish I could un-watch. I fought watching it at the beginning. I made fun of it once it started. I even shielded my eyes and covered my ears when I couldn’t handle the stupidity any longer. For most of it, I was so uncomfortable I didn’t know if I could make it through the whole thing. I could feel my IQ dropping, but I couldn’t leave. Oh, the things we do for love! The show was Harry’s Law. The entire thing was terrible, but one part went beyond normal bad TV. The part that transcended the average prime time schlock in awfulness, unfortunately, was the primary storyline itself. The main character, a … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, Government Rants, Practice in General

No Harm in Asking, Right?

I have a little list of things to do and not do that I give people who are going to speak at or write letters for a client’s sentencing. I pieced it together from various sources and have continued to add to it for the past three years. Clients’ families, friends, and employers tend to find the guidance helpful, and I often provide it to other defense lawyers when they ask. It isn’t anything special, but it covers most of the bases. One section seems to hang people up more than anything else. It’s the section having to do with not making unreasonable requests, and it says this: Be realistic. Do not ask for probation if it is a prison plea. If the minimum prison term … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients, Courts

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