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 the circumstances, a competent and effective attorney can always help.
Even people with no criminal history sometimes believe they have a particular background or other societal or familial disadvantages, which means 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 not get jail for a first offense. A lawyer who specializes in criminal defense might be able to cut a deal that guarantees a client will not serve time in jail.
Deals guaranteeing no jail are not standard, 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 do not seek jail for non-violent first offenders, but they are also not looking to protect the defendant’s rights. 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 reviewing files thinking of justifications for giving defendants breaks. The prosecutor will not offer a great deal if the defense attorney does not work for it.
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. Society can forgive them 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. Both approaches are logical and legitimate reasons for a defendant to get a break. However, the prosecutor will not bring either of these arguments up independently. The defense attorney is responsible for finding a strategy to keep their client out of jail for a first offense.
Building a Case for No Jail for a First Offense
An effective and persistent defense attorney knows they must scour the client’s personal and professional life to uncover every positive aspect of their life. Once the attorney compiles this information, they must make a positive and compelling argument for a no-jail plea and a sentence without jail for a first-time offender. 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 about pursuing jail time, a superior defense knows all is not lost and will keep fighting for an extraordinary result. The best attorneys are “never say die” people; they never give up. If the prosecutor refuses to offer a no-jail plea agreement, they might agree to a conditional plea whereby the defendant avoids jail if they complete probation successfully. Ironically, many prosecutors are willing to agree to such a deal because they are smugly over-confident that a defendant won’t complete probation without a problem. A prosecutor must agree to a delayed sentence resulting 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 prosecution’s objection. Only the most exceptional defense lawyers can get 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 employers do not fairly compensate employees, they typically do not feel motivated 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 spend much time working on a court-appointed client’s case.
Bargain-rate and low-cost attorneys – If you buy 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. If you face a potential jail sentence, hiring a lawyer is akin to the cardiologist because your life is on the line: possible 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, not the quality of their representation.
General practice attorneys – Imagine that you need treatment for a heart condition. Do you rely on a family practitioner for treatment or a cardiologist? When you face criminal charges, the last thing you want is a general practice lawyer unfamiliar with the most effective criminal defense law strategies. A lawyer who practices family law, probate, or any other field of law in combination with criminal defense is not a specialist. You need an expert criminal defense 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 at trial or by a plea, you do not want to face sentencing with an attorney who does not have your confidence; there is still hope for you to avoid jail for a first offense. 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 legal assistance. 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 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. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.