Why I practice DUI and criminal defense

I worked in one of the most corrupt countries in the world for a few years after college. I witnessed and experienced the corruption and human rights violations first-hand, every day. The situation eventually became so bad that a civil war began, which forced me to leave unexpectedly. During my time there, I realized how important it is for the government to be accountable to the people for its actions. I wanted to be involved in that. Criminal defense allows me to play a role by helping people exercise and defend some of the most important rights we have.

My other reason for practicing in this field is that I believe in redemption and fairness. Not all cases involve rights violations, but criminal convictions can be devastating to individuals and their families just the same. DUI and criminal defense let me help some of my clients get a second chance, and ensure that all my clients are treated fairly from the time I get involved in the case.

The kinds of clients I help

The time and effort that I put into every case limits how many I can accept. My clients are charged with a wide range of offenses and come from diverse backgrounds, but they all understand what is at stake. They care enough about the outcome to actively participate in their defense by providing the information I need to get the best result ethically possible.

My experience

I have been completely immersed in criminal and DUI defense for my entire legal career. Other than pro bono projects, it is all that I have ever done. As of this writing, I have handled more than 3,000 criminal and DUI cases as lead counsel, the majority of which have been felonies including:

  • Violent crimes: murder, robbery, arson, aggravated malicious wounding, assault and battery on law enforcement, domestic assault and battery
  • Sex crimes: rape, sexual battery, solicitation or indecent liberties with minors, prostitution
  • Drug offenses: distribution/possession with intent to distribute, manufacturing, and simple possession of just about any drug you can name, obtaining prescription drugs by fraud
  • Firearms charges: use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, shooting from a vehicle, shooting into a dwelling, reckless handling of a firearm
  • Property offenses: breaking and entering, larceny, forgery and uttering, identify theft, credit card theft and fraud, shoplifting, obtaining by false pretense, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle
  • Child abuse/child endangerment—intentional and neglect
  • Felony escape, felony obstruction of justice, and resisting arrest
  • Traffic offenses: all forms of misdemeanor and felony DUI, refusal, reckless driving, hit and run, driving on a suspended driver’s license, ignition interlock violations, driving outside of the conditions authorized for a restricted driver’s license
  • DMV fraud
  • Probation violations and good behavior violations

Success at trial

The offenses listed above come from trials where the court dismissed or reduced the charges to less serious offenses. In most of them, there was little or no evidence we could present that my clients were innocent. Some of these cases are described on the results page.

The list includes cases with confessions, cocaine the police confiscated from the clothing my client was wearing at the time of arrest, abysmal performance on field sobriety tests, video of my client supposedly committing the offense, audio recordings and testimony from undercover police officers that my client sold them drugs, and on and on. These results are not typical, of course. The point is simply that thorough preparation increases the odds of finding a weak link in the prosecutor’s case.

I know how and when to negotiate for plea agreements

Litigation is complicated, and so is negotiation. Knowing when to negotiate comes from experience going to trial on lots and lots of prior cases, and seeing how they play out. It is the only way to make informed decisions about whether to negotiate at all and what you want to negotiate for.

The same thing goes for the negotiation itself. Experience is the only way to learn what is possible under the circumstances, how to achieve it, how much information to reveal, and when to walk away. I would guess that I have been through legitimate plea negotiations close to 1,000 times.

I know what convinces judges my clients deserve leniency

If trial results in a conviction, sentencing follows before any appeal can take place. Ensuring a fair sentence is just as important as the trial itself. Judges need and welcome help determining what is fair to the individual based on the facts of the case and the individual’s background. Without that information, all they know is what they see—someone who committed a crime.

My clients and I give the judges everything necessary to decide what a fair sentence is. I have learned what judges respond to and how to present it without giving the prosecutor a chance to spin it against us. At the same time, I have learned to predict what the prosecutors will argue. We minimize the damage as much as possible, and sometimes we can even turn it into effective mitigation. Preparing for sentencing can take more work than preparing for trial, especially in big felony cases, but the results are worth every bit of the effort.

For example, a prosecutor, who is now a judge, once told me that his office had been expecting an active sentence well beyond ten years of prison time in a case involving sex offenses against minors. The sentencing guidelines were very high, and he had asked the court to exceed the guidelines and incarcerate my client for as long as possible, which would have been close to 100 years. That judge was notoriously hard on offenses involving minor victims, but he was always willing to listen as most judges are when the message is good. After our presentation the judge sentenced my client to just over five years to serve, which was the bare low end of the sentencing guidelines.

What you can expect if you work with me

  • My best effort at all times. This should be obvious, but unfortunately it is not. Lawyers have duties of competence, loyalty, and diligence to their clients. Whatever mistakes we make in life, we all have a right to be treated fairly, and your lawyer is the only person on your side in the criminal justice system. I would never take a case if I could not give my best effort for any reason.
  • Communication. I will keep you updated and explain things to you in plain English without assuming you know the law or court procedures.
  • Collaboration. Some decisions will be yours to make, like whether to go to trial, accept a plea offer, or testify. Strategy decisions will be mine. I will advise you without pressure, explain and answer any questions necessary for you to make informed decisions. I will consult you and consider your views whenever possible before making strategy decisions. I will always explain my strategy, and adjust it as needed to pursue your goals if your priorities change.

Bar and Association Memberships

  • Virginia State Bar—criminal law section
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL)
  • National College for DUI Defense (NCDD)
  • DUI Defense Lawyers Association (DUIDLA)—state ambassador for Virginia