I had the pleasure of representing one of the nicest men I have met in a long time. Due to a “sticky” relationship with an acquaintance, my client was charged with a sex offense. With my advice, my client did everything right. He immediately enrolled in a variety of counseling programs, and drug and alcohol treatment programs. I had my client meet the prosecutor so the DA knew my client was a real person, who (at worst) made a one time bad mistake of judgment.
With good planning and filing of legal briefs, we all ended up striking a fantastic deal. My guy would simply plead to a lesser offense – which would be expunged and sealed at a later date. He would not have to do any jail, no community service and no home arrest. He would be on probation for 2 years and just have to see his regular therapists. We placed this agreement on the record but had to return after the “probation department” ran their own background check on my client, and made their recommendations to the judge. This is known as a Pre-Sentence Investigation.
Well, when we appeared for sentencing, there was a new (substitute) Prosecutor and a very tough probation officer with a scathing report against my client. In short, this new prosecutor (who had never met my client) and the probation officer wanted the judge to disregard the original agreement, send my guy to jail for a minimum of 30 days, have him register as a sex offender, undergo sex offender therapy, and submit to random polygraph exams at the whim of the probation officer.
I blew my “cork”. I immediately conjured up my years of both Civil and Criminal trial experience and went after both the Judge, Probation Person and New Prosecutor. I argued my client did everything right (i.e. got into treatment), that he had no prior criminal charges of any type, that the probation report found him a NO risk for re-offending. Most importantly, I argued that the therapist or assessor who knows my client the best is his own treating doctors -whom he had been seeing for months, versus a biased probation officer who saw my client once for less than one hour. I argued the new prosecutor had no personal knowledge of my client and never even shook his hand.
I argued that the Spirit of the agreement was to ensure this man would not be classified as a sex offender. I argued that subjecting someone to a polygraph (a device not even admissible in court)….does not pass “fry-mack” test ( y0u can google that), and would create unbearable stress and strain on my client. I think the probation officer was watching too much Law And Order TV episodes.
The woman prosecutor was “livid”. Over and over she would “cry” the defendant is dangerous, needs to go to jail and undergo psychosexual counseling. But, in the end, I WON. The judge agreed to keep in place the original resolution, my guy did not have to do any Jail nor community service and he was not classified as any type of sex offender. I can say I had a very good relationship with the judge and she trusted me and respected my opinions and arguments. This was a big saving grace!
The moral of the story is that if you go to court, you need an educated attorney who is not afraid to shout down the judge and prosecutor. I can assure you that if I was not there, or if my client had a timid attorney or public defender, he’d be in jail now and labeled as a sexual offender.
I can not emphasize how important it is to have the right attorney at your side. Call Richard W. Hechter, Attorney 952-920-0840.