Friendships matter when it comes to negotiating with Prosecutors
Recently I met with a prospective client that was arrested for a DUI in the Seattle area. As I sat down with this person I proceeded to tell them what I thought about their case, what I thought about the Judge, and lastly what I thought about the Prosecutor who would most likely be handling the case. In fact I told this person I knew the Prosecutor quite well, and I consider them a friend. I was very clear and said it may not affect how your case goes, but I said it wouldn’t hurt.
This person then said they met with another DUI Attorney in the Seattle area. I know of this other attorney, not personally, but just be seeing them around. Personally I don’t respect them for other reasons, but that is another story. See my blog post on solicitation letters. This prospective client went on to tell me how this other attorney said “anybody who tells you they are friends with Prosecutors and that is going to help your case is lying to you. When push comes to shove do you really think the Prosecutor is going to risk losing their job to help. My firm has professional relationships with Prosecutors and that is much better relationship to have.” And blah, blah, blah.
I think this attorney is missing the point. If I know a Prosecutor personally. And Im on a friendly basis with them. Then to me that is much better relationship to have with a Prosecutor. Not because they are going to go out of their way and risk losing their job to offer my clients a deal. But because they know the type of person I am. They obviously trust me and respect me. They know me personally not only as a DUI Attorney but as a friend. For example…
I recently had a case in a local district court. The DUI charge was negotiated down to a Negligent Driving 1. When I met with the Prosecutor (who happens to be a friend) to go over the plea paperwork. This Prosecutor told me we were in front of a protem Judge. Meaning it was a substitute Judge and not the regular one. The Prosecutor told me that if I talk a lot about my client during sentencing and show the Judge they learned from their mistake then this Judge would most likely grant a deferred sentence without even asking. Since the plea deal was agreed and I couldn’t just come out and ask for a deferred sentence, this was a way for us to get around that.
Had I not known this Prosecutor personally. I highly doubt they would have told me this and I doubt my client would have gotten the benefit of a deferred sentence. But because of my relationship my client now has the chance of getting this charge dismissed. That is how personal relationships affect cases. It’s not that a Prosecutor is going to go out of their way and risk losing their job to offer a deal. I would never ask a friend to do that. We all have our jobs to do and I respect that.
About the author: Matthew Leyba is a DUI Attorney in Seattle. His practice focuses on representing those accused of DUI and other traffic offenses. He was recently named a 2013 Rising Star in the field of DUI Defense by Super Lawyers Magazine, and he is a top rated DUI Attorney by Avvo with a 10 out of 10 rating.