Monday, June 10, 2013

Don't follow the antics of Chad Johnson at your Probation hearing

In case you're not familiar with who Chad Johnson is.  He is a former NFL wide receiver.  He used to go by the name Chad Ochocinco, but changed it back to his original name last year.  Anyway today a Judge handed down a 30 day jail sentence to Mr. Johnson for what I can only describe as "joking" in Court during a Probation hearing.  

So what happened?  Mr. Johnson is currently on probation for a domestic violence change he pled no contest to for head butting his ex-wife.  I guess since that plea he hasn't met some of the conditions of the sentence.  Specifically meeting with a probation officer among other things.  Today he was in Court to answer for the sentence noncompliance issues.  His Defense Attorney and the Prosecutor had reached a deal where Mr. Johnson would not serve any jail time, and would only have to make up the missed probation appointments with the probation officer.

Prior to accepting this plea deal the Judge asked Mr. Johnson if he was happy with his Attorney.  In a joking manner, Mr. Johnson slapped the back side of his Attorney.  Apparently the Judge did not approve of this behavior.  She essentially told Mr. Johnson that she didn't think he was taking things seriously and lowered the boom with a 30 day jail sentence.

Now for those of you that don't know.  When a defendant appears before a Judge at a Probation hearing.  The Judge has the discretion to hand down whatever sentence they want.  In other words they have the power to hand down whatever sentence maximum sentence allowed under the law.  That is why it is called a suspended sentence.  Because at the time of sentencing the Judge suspends whatever the maximum sentence is on the condition that certain requirements be met.  If you don't meet those requirements or conditions of the sentence than that suspended jail can come back into play.  

So why am I writing about this on a Seattle DUI Attorney blog.  Well in my practice I often appear at these probation hearings.  Usually not for my clients that didn't do what they were supposed to.  But a new client who needs help specifically at this Probation hearing.  The first thing I always tell them is to act appropriately.  You see all a Judge wants to see is some remorse, some accountability, and reassurance that you're going to take things seriously and follow what they say.  

Basically you have to kiss up to the Judge because in the end they have the power to throw you in jail on a whim.  Much like what happened to Chad Johnson.  So if you end up in front of a Judge following for a Probation hearing dealing with a Seattle DUI arrest.  Do yourself a favor and take things seriously.  Because one wrong word, or action can mean the difference between going home and going to jail.  

Additionally never try to do these hearings by yourself.  Occasionally I will see a defendant representing themselves at this hearing and it never goes well.  They think they can just show up and talk their way out of trouble.  And it doesn't work that way.  An experienced Seattle DUI Attorney is needed to help you out.  Trust me a good one is worth their weight in gold.

About the author: Matthew Leyba works as a DUI lawyer in Seattle.  He has been named a Rising Star among Seattle DUI Attorneys by the Seattle Met Magazine, an honor less than 2.5% of all Attorneys receive.  Additionally he is rated a 10 out of 10 and listed as a Superb DUI Lawyer by Avvo.  

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