When I was a teen-ager, my parents repeated their mantra ad nauseum: short-term sacrifices for long-term goals. I didn't particulary like to hear it, but their is logic to it and it eventually stuck. I wish that my client's could have benefited from such direction when they were growing up.
On Friday morning, I covered jail arraignments for one of the other attorney's in our office. Basically, guys are brought over from the jail and have bond hearings or probation revocation hearings or get their cases started.
Several of these guys had felony probation revocation proceedings pending. Now, rather than just plead guilty to get out of jail, it's best if these guys exercise a little restraint and allow us, the misdemeanor attorneys, to coordinate with the felony attorneys. That way, we can work something out that will hurt them the least. Let's call this guy Mr. Smith. He had picked up several charges for going over to his girlfriend's house when there was a restraining order in effect and for kicking her door.
Because I was just covering and there were 30 guys on the calendar, I had asked that some of the other attorneys in the office help me out. So, I told the other attorney that Mr. Smith had a pending felony probation revocation. He knew the drill and told Mr. Smith that he was better off waiting. But Mr. Smith didn't want to hear any of that and asked to talk to someone else.
Eventually, I got around to talking to Mr. shortly before noon. I explained to him that he was better off waiting, so we could coordinate. He was convinced, however, that his felony judge was going to let him out, and the hearing was to be that very afternoon. He wanted out in the worst way. First, he wanted a bond modification and if that didn't work out, he wanted to enter a guilty plea. So, I worked out a deal that would hurt him as little as possible. We would enter an Alford
plea (meaning he was maintaing his innocence but pleading guilty to avoid the consequences of an adverse verdict at trial) and all he would have to do for 12 months was comply with the restraining order that was in fact. I believe that the deal intially included a 26 week domestic violence intervention program.
We asked for bond modification, but the Judge didn't want to hear it because the guy had just been in front of the Judge two weeks ago on bond. The Judge invited him to enter a plea, if Mr. Smith wanted and Mr. Smith took him up on the offer. He was focused completely on his belief that the felony judge was going to let him out. He had been in jail for about 2 weeks.
However, the lunch hour was nearly half hour and the Judge was late for a conference call, so he set the case over to 1:30. I tried to find Mr. Smith's felony lawyer during the 10 minutes I was in the office, checking email and voicemail and getting organized for the afternoon, before I ran out to get lunch and headed back to court.
During the afternoon session, we went ahead with the plea and the prosecutor didn't recommend the DVIP program. So the guy just had to comply with the restraining order. I advised the Judge that the victim had come to the jail on several ocassions to visit Mr. Smith, including Thursday night, and that we were expecting that the restraining order would be rescinded. In the alternative, the Judge ordered no violent contact.
Afterwards, I went upstairs to talk to his felony attorney, who was waiting for Mr. Smith to come up. When I told my colleauge, he just closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. As it turns out, the attorney thought that the possibility of Mr. Smith being released that day was a long-shot and was pleased when Mr. Smith indicated that he was going to fight the case. Our state has a rule that if there are only technical violations of the conditions of probation, the judge can't exceed two years on a revocation. Mr. Smith effectively increased his exposure by entering his plea and had pretty much guaranteed that he would be spending more time in jail, if not actually going to prison. At that point, I explained what happened and the selling points of our plea, and then left to go meet a client back at the office, which I was already late for.
Three words: "short term sacrifices."
Hey, I'm just an Assistant Public Defender and not a "real lawyer," but sometimes I know what I'm talking about.