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   Top Five Reasons Not to Hire a DUI Attorney to Address Your Non-DUI Felony

Potential clients seeking information about the criminal justice process often ask if I specialize in the exact offense with which they are charged.  Of course, no criminal defense attorney specializes in juvenile burglary cases, domestic violence between same sex partners cases, or grandparent child molestation cases.  The reality is there is probably not enough business in any particular area of criminal law to justify additional specialization beyond criminal defense.  I suspect this is true throughout the United States, with one exception: Driving Under the Influence (DUI). 

 

Driving under the influence (aka driving while intoxicated) is the one area where a number of attorney, especially young attorneys (i.e. graduated from law school in the last four years) choose to specialize.  I suspect there are a number of reasons for that: (1) there are a number of CLE (continuing legal education) classes that focus specifically on training attorneys to defend DUI classes; (2) attorneys that teach other attorneys how to defense DUI cases can justify fees charged for tuition by explaining the voluminous number of DUI arrests every month (DUI arrest numbers are monitored religiously, and that area of criminal defense is actively promoted); (3) DUIs represent the greatest number of police arrests every month, because in our culture “everything is better with alcohol;” (4) DUI clients come from every socio-economic group, and as such many can pay hefty fees for their DUI defense (unlike many criminal clients, DUI client have money to spend on their defense); and (5) unlike other clients, DUI clients are not folks who have had a great deal of contact with the justice system, so they are more anxious and frightened than the average criminal – a fact that the DUI attorney exploits to his advantage.  Irrespective of the reasons why, it is important to note there are more attorneys specializing in DUIs than in any other area of criminal defense.  Unfortunately, many of these DUI attorneys promote themselves as criminal defense attorneys, claiming that they can handle any type of misdemeanor, juvenile or felony case. 

 

While a DUI attorney may be fantastic for a DUI case, there are a number of reasons you do not want to hire a DUI attorney to handle your non-DUI criminal case.  Here are my top five:

 

(5)    DUI is not a criminal offense, it is a traffic offense (DUI law is found under Title 40, specifically O.C.G.A. 40-6-391, not Title 16, which addresses criminal offenses); 

(4) because the penalty phase in a felony criminal case is catastrophic, usually leaving the inexperienced attorney and defendant’s family shell shocked, you need an attorney that has some experience (legally and emotionally) handling felony sentences   (one felony conviction for a sex offense may result in more incarceration time than all of the DUI attorney’s DUI convictions combined); 

(3) the greatest penalty for DUI is suspension of license, because the local jail time is negligible (there is no prison time, unless there is an accompanying felony like possession of cocaine, or serious injury by motor vehicle), which leads some attorneys to falsely believe that jury selection is less critical than it really is;  

(2) While a jury may be sympathetic to a DUI defendant (after all anyone might have too much to drink one particular night), they will be prejudiced against your burglary, sexual abuse, trafficking cocaine or murder client right from the beginning (is the DUI attorney ready for that hostility in voir dire); 

(1)    There is no field sobriety tests, alco-sensor and/or intoxilyzer in a child molestation, deposit account fraud, armed robbery or aggravated assault case, which means that your DUI attorney has little experience deals with the issues that will arise in the typical felony case, especially how to cross-examine the difficult witness (e.g. small child, elderly grandmother, truculent ex-girlfriend, or lying neighborhood busybody).

Lawrence Lewis is an experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer practicing as Drug Attorney, License Suspension Lawyers, Sex Offense Attorney, Traffic Citation Lawyer, Misdemeanor Offenses Attorneys, Felony Offenses Lawyer, Bond Lawyer, Armed Robber Attorney, dui lawyer, Preliminary Hearing serving Lawrenceville, Gwinnett Country, Metro Atlanta, Alpharetta, Roswell, Marietta, Buford, Fulton County, Canton, Decatur, Norcross, Woodstock, Stone Mountain, Duluth and Cumming .

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