Naturally I've been in court recently with clients. As I waited for a case to be called, I couldn't help but notice how some individuals came to court representing themselves, all of them nervous, no attorney present at all. In legal terminology they are known as pro se defendants.
Unfortunately the results were what I'd come to expect: A substantial fine, loss of driving privileges for between 3 and 12 months, second or third time offenders facing jail time. Not to mention a dramatic increase in their insurance rates for years. And maybe worst of all, a Colorado DUI conviction which would remain on their record for life.
You see, its the DA's job to do that.
It was sad, really, because with the help of an attorney experienced in Colorado DUI defense they could very possibly have avoided some of these consequences.
Let me give you a couple of examples.
She decided not to have representation and do it alone. Her request was denied and she also managed to make the hearing officer angry. Because of this, she did not get a license for one year.
An experienced attorney knows what issues are explored at this type of hearing and can prepare a presentation that is convincing.
So whats my point? She should have been granted a probationary license but wasn't, because she didn't know what to do and because she had made the hearing officer angry.
As a pro se Defendant he had 3 or 4 pretrial discussions with the prosecutor. He had continued his case 2 or 3 times, asking permission to retain a lawyer each time. He actually did not want a lawyer as he believed he was drunk and wanted to just get the case over.
In his first 3 pretrial discussions with the same prosecuting attorney he was offered a plea agreement of a DUI with the standard terms of probation and community service along with an agreed upon 10 day jail sentence. The Defendant did not want to go to jail and was ambivalent about accepting the offer, but nevertheless, decided not to hire a lawyer.
On the 4th and final pretrial conference at which he appeared, there was a different prosecutor who offered the same plea agreement but with "in home detention" rather than jail. He gratefully accepted the deal. The fact is, if he would have not even attempted a plea agreement with the original prosecutor and just pleaded guilty straight up to the judge, he would have got 10 days "in home detention" anyway. The first Deputy DA was "jerking" him around. A Colorado DUI attorney wouldn't have let that happen.