What Are The Qualities To Look For In A Competent DUI Attorney?

Any attorney unwilling to sit down with you face-to-face free of charge to discuss your case with you is probably someone you don’t want to consider; you have a lot of liberty interest at stake when you face a criminal charge, including a DUI. When you decide on someone to represent you and to protect those interests, if you haven’t even been able to sit down with them and look them in the eye before you start paying them money or making decisions on whether they’re the person for you, how can you possibly reasonably do that?

I have never understood why attorneys will not offer a free initial consultation, or who will only offer 15 minutes or a half hour. No one can reasonably be expected to make such an important decision under those circumstances and restraints. Beyond that, I would say that these are highly technical and scientific cases, so if someone has hung their shingle after being out of law school for a year, it is virtually impossible for them to have the requisite amount of training and experience with the scientific principles at play to be able to effectively analyze, let alone litigate and flush out the issues that exist in basically every DUI case. You need to look at that person’s experience level.

I am a much better defense attorney because of the many years I’ve spent as a prosecutor, and I would have been a much better prosecutor had I spent a few years as a defense attorney beforehand, but doing what I do now, my years as a prosecutor have helped me tremendously because I know what prosecutors are looking for, I know the kind of evidence that’s required to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt and I know which issues cause problems. My job is generally, in my view, to try to get my clients the best possible outcome without having to send this to a jury, so to speak, and incur the uncertainty and expense that comes along with that.

My experience as a prosecutor helps me flush out which issues I can highlight for the DA to get the best possible dispositional offer. As a result, that experience means that I’m able to secure better dispositions than attorneys without the same kind of experience and background.

Another thing you want in an attorney is a good reputation, not only in the defense community but also with prosecutors. A lot of my cases are referred to me by prosecutors and law enforcement members who know me and my reputation. To the extent that you can find out someone’s reputation not only with past clients but with members of law enforcement and the prosecution and defense communities, that’s valuable information to know because, if the cops are referring people to this person, you know that’s someone who knows what they’re doing and is well-respected by those who are generally adversaries in court.

How Often Are You Able To Get Charges Reduced or Dismissed?

In Colorado, getting reduced charges is a red herring because, within the last few years, the state has changed their sentencing schemes for alcohol-related offenses. I mentioned earlier that we have DWAI and within the last 2-3 years, they pretty much eliminated any substantive difference between DUI and DWAI.  Attorneys can get the prosecution to agree to a DWAI, but that probably won’t have a meaningful effect on what actually happens to their client; they’ve saved them a little bit of a fine and a few community service hours but in terms of the actual meaningful consequences, they’ve really done nothing.

I have very good success in all of my cases in affecting a meaningful change in their overall outcome. In other words, I don’t just look to get a reduction in the level of charge for someone when that reduction won’t do anything meaningful. I look to effect a meaningful change in the outcome compared to what they would have gotten by themselves. If that’s a dismissal in one case, then so be it; if it’s a deferred judgment or a concession from the prosecution in terms of a sentencing agreement, that is something they wouldn’t likely have gotten in front of that particular judge. If you talk to me or any other attorney who regularly practices in the Colorado courts, at least in the Metro area, you don’t get a lot of dismissals in DUI cases without going to trial.

Without going to trial, what I get a lot of times is a meaningful improvement in someone’s circumstances over what they could have gotten on their own, or might have gotten had they gone to trial.

I know that kind of dances around the question of how often, but success is different for every person and in every case, so you can’t just put a hard and fast rule on what is success in any one case. I think I am successful in every case I handle based upon what it means for the outcomes with my clients.

For more information on Qualities of A Competent DUI Attorney, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (303) 814-2600 today.

Colorado Criminal Defense Attorney Kevin Ellmann
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