One of the main questions my clients ask is “what can I do to prepare for my court date?” It is important to take steps prior to your court date to make sure that you are prepared for the consequences of the hearing. Typically, you want to prepare for worst case scenario and the good news is that you have control over what happens between being charged with a DWI and your court date.
Worst case scenario in any criminal context would involve a conviction on the charge (whether by plea or trial). After conviction, there is a sentencing hearing where we get to present evidence on your life prior to the arrest are and the steps you have taken since the charge to insure it won’t happen again. The judge conducting the sentencing hearing is looking to hear evidence that you are not going to be charged with a second (or subsequent) DWI.
Here are just a few things I typically recommend my clients do before their court date to show the judge that they are taking the charge seriously and will not be back in court in the future (additional or less items may be required based on your particular circumstances):
1) Obtain an alcohol assessment. Having an alcohol assessment completed before your court date is a specific mitigating factor at sentencing. Obtaining this assessment is probably the easiest, but also the most important, way to prepare for a DWI sentencing hearing. See our video below on obtaining an assessment.
2) Begin alcohol classes based on assessment. It can be influential to present the sentencing judge with a certificate of treatment form from the agency providing alcohol treatment classes. Completion of the classes will be required by the judge as a part of the sentence, but it shows initiative on your end if you complete the classes prior to the judge’s order requiring you to do so.
3) Perform community service at a local non-profit organization. For a list of suggestions on where to perform community service see the attached. Performing community service shows that you are an active contributing member in society.
4) Attend AA meetings. This would be strongly suggested if you are going to court on a second DWI charge. Many AA sponsors are willing to write an anonymous letter on your behalf stating the amount of meetings you have attended, your involvement in those meetings, and their relationship with you.
5) Have a period of sobriety prior to your court date. While you could show this by using a continuous alcohol monitoring device, just stating that you have not been drinking since the charge, or for some period of time, helps demonstrate to the judge that you have control over alcohol.
6) Obtain a letter from your insurance company stating that all personal injury or property damage claims related to an accident have been paid. It would be best to discuss whether to submit this at Court with an attorney, but it is always wise to get an insurance letter with a claims status whenever there is an accident.
7) Take advantage of a free legal consultation. While there are many ways to prepare for a court date on your own, don’t hesitate to take advantage of a free legal consultation during which an attorney can help you develop an action plan for your case.