But I’ve Never Been in Trouble with the Law Before! That Counts for Something Right??!! By Bo Kalabus

By Bo Kalabus
bo@kalabuslaw.com
Office: 972-562-7549
24 Hour Jail Release 214-402-4364

“But I’ve never been in trouble before, doesn’t that count for something??!!” I hear this statement/question a lot in my practice from a person accused of a crime. I also hear “But my son/daughter has never been in trouble before–that’s going to help right?” Unfortunately, in most cases the answer might be difficult to take.

Take for example, a person named Jack who is about 50 years old. Jack is on the fast track to make equity partner at his law firm where he has worked for the past 25 years. He has a loving wife and three boys-one of which just graduated from college. Jack has also been a model citizen during his life and has no criminal record. On the way back home from his son’s graduation party, Jack in a hurry to return home and respond to a few high pressure work e-mails, is speeding about 10 miles an hour over the limit on the toll road in Frisco.

Jack catches the attention of a DPS Trooper patrolling the toll road. The Trooper sees Jack’s vehicle speed is over the limit on his radar and pulls Jack over. The Trooper smells alcohol and within 45 seconds of talking with Jack, the Trooper asks if Jack has had anything to drink. Jack, being honest, responds that he’s “had a few beers at his son’s graduation party.” Jack is asked to step out of the car and after a less than stellar performance on the field sobriety tests, Jack is arrested on charges of DWI. At the police station Jack consents to a breath test because he has nothing to hide, and he respects authority. The test shows that Jack’s blood alcohol is above the legal limit.

This is about the time I hear Jack say –“But I’ve never been in trouble before that will count for something right?”–during his consultation with me in my office. Jack is not eligible for the Pre Trial Diversion Program (PTD) (a great Collin County program that allows a first time offender the opportunity to enter a program that will give the offender the opportunity to get the charge off his record) because a DWI is a category of crime that is not allowed into PTD. Jack is now in a situation where all of his hard work in life and prior good criminal record will have no impact on whether he is guilty or innocent of DWI. The pending charge will surely stress his home life and may put his career advancement in jeopardy among other things. Jack will ultimately have to face the decision of taking a plea deal and being convicted or setting the case for trial and taking his chances of whether a jury will find him innocent or not.

A case like the example above is very tough for some people to understand and I don’t blame them. Essentially, life and a good criminal record can get turned on its head in one evening and it can be tough to comprehend. Now, a good background or lack of a criminal record does have its time and place to be heard about. Unfortunately, it’s after a judge or jury has found a defendant guilty and that defendant is now convicted of the crime. The proceeding then goes into the punishment phase of the trial. The prior good behavior will then become part of the evidence and be weighed to determine the jail time served or probation.

 

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