To effectively negotiate a favorable resolution in a criminal or traffic case, a law firm must have credibility with the prosecutor. Over the years, the law firm of Anderegg& Associates has cultivated a reputation of competence, knowledge of the law, and the conviction to fight for our clients. Our willingness to take a case to a jury, when necessary, is critical to eliciting the best possible offer from the prosecutor. Equally important is our commitment to continue vigorously negotiating until the case is resolved to our client’s satisfaction.
Mitigating the Impact
Mark was a 44-year-old man who suffered chronic back pain which made sleeping difficult. Mark’s sleep problems intensified in the Spring of 2003 when he lost his father. One night, Mark took a prescribed sleep medication but when the prescribed dose did not have its intended effect, Mark took additional doses. Unfortunately, Mark still remained awake the entire night and decided to drive to a local store early the following morning. While under the influence of the medication, Mark ran a red light, broadsided another vehicle, and caused injuries to the other driver. A test of Mark’s blood revealed a level of the controlled substance greatly in excess of the therapeutic level. The State therefore charged Mark with Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) – Causing Injury and sought a significant jail sentence.
Mark came to Anderegg & Associates with two primary goals. First, he wished to avoid a criminal record because it would have ended his chosen career. Second, Mark was terrified by the prospect of going to jail and therefore wanted to avoid incarceration at all costs. There were significant obstacles to meeting these goals because although the injured driver was made whole through Mark’s insurer, the State refused to see the case as anything other than an irresponsible driver under the influence of a controlled substance. Moreover, since it is precisely the potential for injury (or death) which is driving the current crackdown on OWI cases, the prosecutor was particularly loathe to compromise in a case involving an actual and significant injury.
To enhance negotiating leverage, Anderegg & Associates signaled its intention to aggressively defend Mark by filing and litigating a probable cause challenge to the arrest. Mark’s attorney then pointed out, during negotiations, the proof problems the prosecutor could expect because there was no statutorily prohibited level of the particular controlled substance Mark had ingested. Finally, an attorney at Anderegg& Associates spoke with the other driver and explained Mark’s situation. After hearing Mark’s story, the other driver was sympathetic to Mark’s predicament and expressed hope Mark would not have to spend time in jail for the accident. The attorney then arranged for the prosecutor to speak directly with the victim. Significant time was also spent humanizing Mark and educating the prosecutor as to Mark’s character.
After more than one year of vigorous negotiations, the prosecutor began to recognize the potential proof problems and came to view Mark in a more individualized light. Having involved the victim in the negotiation process also greased the wheels for compromise and the State eventually relented and reduced the criminal charge to a civil charge of simple OWI. Accordingly, Mark did not obtain a criminal record or spend any time in jail. Instead, he paid a forfeiture and received the minimum six-month revocation of his driver’s license.By Rex Anderegg