You do not have to go to jail for a first offense.
In most cases, judges consider jail time for drug charges, assault, weapons offenses, financial crimes, and others. A top criminal defense lawyer can almost always find a way to keep you out of jail.
No matter what the circumstances, a smart and effective attorney can always help.
Even people who have no criminal history sometimes believe they have a particular background, or other societal or familial disadvantages, which will mean they can expect no mercy from a judge. In other cases, the assigned judge may have a reputation for being particularly harsh. A top-rated, reputable attorney will know how to present a client’s life, background, and positive traits to a judge and prosecutor to help them understand why the client should get a no-jail sentence. A lawyer who specializes in criminal defense may be able to cut a deal that guarantees a client will not serve time in jail.
Deals guaranteeing no jail are not common, and bargain-priced lawyers and many court-appointed attorneys typically do not do the groundwork and preparation necessary to persuade a prosecutor or judge to agree to a deal that ensures a sentence without jail time. Many criminal defendants in Michigan are sentenced to time in jail or prison because their lawyers failed to advocate for them in court effectively. A lawyer who doesn’t care enough to fight and protect their client cannot hope to achieve the best possible result.
The fact is that most prosecutors have no strong desire to jail non-violent first offenders. It is the job of an astute, diligent, retained attorney to give the prosecutor reasons to offer a no-jail deal. Prosecutors do not spend time going over files thinking of justifications for giving defendants breaks. If the defense attorney does not work for a great deal, it is likely one won’t be offered.
The Two “First Offender” Theories
One school of thought is that young offenders should get a break on their first offense because they are arguably immature and rebellious, and can be forgiven somewhat for not having yet learned how to constrain themselves to abide by society’s rules. The second school of thought is that if someone has made it well into adulthood, middle-age, or older, they have a track record of being a law-abiding, upstanding member of society and deserve consideration for that. Both approaches are logical, and both are legitimate reasons for a defendant to get a break. However, the prosecutor will not bring either of these arguments up on their own. The defense attorney is responsible for finding a strategy to keep his or her client out of jail and then persuade a judge to order a lenient sentence.
Building a Case for No Jail
An effective and persistent defense attorney knows that he or she must scour the personal and professional life of the client to uncover even the smallest positive aspects of their life. Once this information has been compiled, he must make a positive and compelling argument for a no-jail plea and a sentence without jail. In many cases, a good defense attorney will compose a Sentencing Memorandum that includes the positive aspects of a client’s life, why the judge can trust that the defendant will not re-offend, and why the law supports a sentence without jail time. While most lawyers rarely, if ever file such a memorandum, the top criminal defense attorneys in Michigan will always do whatever is necessary to achieve the best possible outcome.
Delayed sentences – Another Option to Avoid Jail Time
Even if the prosecutor is adamant in pursuing jail time, all is not lost in the eyes of a superior defense attorney. The best attorneys are “never say die” people; they never give up. If the prosecutor refuses to offer a no-jail plea agreement, he or she may agree to a conditional plea whereby if the defendant completes probation successfully, jail can be avoided and, maybe, a conviction for a lesser offense will be entered. Ironically, many prosecutors are willing to agree to such a deal because they are smugly confident that a defendant won’t be able to complete probation without a problem. A prosecutor must agree to a delayed sentence that results in a lower charge or dismissal. On the other hand, a judge can agree to a delayed sentence resulting in no jail time, even over the objection of the prosecution. Only the most exceptional defense lawyers are capable of getting judges to grant relief over the vehement objections of the prosecution.
Your life is too important to take chances.
Court-appointed attorneys – Although there are many decent and conscientious court-appointed lawyers, 100% of them are grossly underpaid. It is common knowledge and human nature that if people are not fairly compensated for their work, they typically do not feel any motivation to go the extra mile. There is simply no way a court-appointed attorney can do everything necessary or possible in a case when they receive such paltry fees for their work. Sometimes, the attorney cannot afford to do more than a certain number of things in a case before they actually start losing money by having taken a case.
Bargain-rate attorneys – If you are buying a car or a lawnmower, you want to find the lowest price in town. If you need heart surgery, you do not seek out the cheapest cardiologist in town. If you face a potential jail sentence, hiring a lawyer is akin to the cardiologist because your life is on the line: potential loss of employment, family, friends, licenses, citizenship, voting rights, gun ownership, etc. A bargain-priced attorney will be more concerned with the quantity of their clients, as opposed to the quality of their representation.
General practice attorneys – Imagine for a moment that you need treatment for a heart condition. Do you rely on a family practitioner for treatment or a cardiologist? When you are charged with a criminal offense, the last thing you want is a general practice lawyer who is not familiar with the most effective strategies in criminal defense law. A lawyer that practices family law, probate, or any other field of law in combination with criminal defense, is not a specialist and will not have the level of expertise as an attorney who focuses exclusively on criminal defense.
It’s Never Too Late…If you are not receiving the defense you deserve, it is time to make a change.
If you’ve been convicted by plea or a jury decision, and you are facing sentencing with an attorney who does not have your confidence, there is still hope for you. A defendant can hire a new attorney or firm to take over their representation at any time. We have taken over the representation of numerous clients facing jail because of inferior representation. Our lawyers have turned many of these cases around and saved the day for the client by snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.
The Defense Team at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have decades of experience fighting for no-jail sentences. We will leave no stone unturned in our effort to keep you free and keep your life on track.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation, or complete a Request for Assistance Form and we will contact you promptly.