The Year 2024 Started Off With A Bang Due To Incredible Advocating By Attorney John Orth

The Year 2024 Started Off With A Bang Due To Incredible Advocating By Attorney John Orth

Sometimes clients can be their own worst enemies. And when acts of self-sabotage occur, that is when patience, compassion and persistence are at a tremendous premium. In a recent post, Attorney John Orth reported the following:

“While on probation for 10 counts of theft and robbery, R.A. was arrested for 14 additional counts of criminal charges, primarily theft and drug possession.  She was confined to jail on a probation hold and proceedings to revoke her probation were initiated.  Both episodes were clearly motivated by R.A.’s addiction.  Despite the severity of both the original and new charges, Attorney Orth was able to persuade both her probation agent and the prosecuting attorney that the inadequacy of her previous treatment plan was the root cause of reoffending.  After helping her to secure placement at a long-term treatment facility, Attorney Orth was able to avoid the revocation of her probation and secure a disposition on the new charges that avoided any further reincarceration.”

Sounds like a happy ending? Not so fast. Between the writing of the above narrative and the next court date at which this superlative disposition was to be formalized, R.A. absconded from her treatment facility after less than two weeks and resumed intensive drug use. Upon learning this, Attorney Orth immediately contacted R. A. and recommended that she turn herself in prior to the next court date as the best first step to repaving the way to reviving the settlement that he had previously secured. R. A. did not follow Attorney Orth’s recommendation and instead committed seven more felony retail thefts.

As is inevitably the case, R.A. was eventually picked up and placed on a probation hold and revocation proceedings were initiated once again. Attorney Orth was able to again secure an alternative to probation revocation in the form of supervised drug abuse treatment. However, this outcome would be contingent on the prosecuting attorney’s agreement to not pursue imprisonment on any of the pending charges. Given the circumstances and chronic nature of R.A.’s criminal history, this seemed unlikely. Yet that is exactly what happened. While the prosecution had initially revoked its previous agreement upon learning of R.A.’s latest crime spree, Attorney Orth was able to work with the Department of Corrections and the District Attorney’s Office to craft a solution that adequately satisfied both the concern for public welfare and R.A.’s treatment needs. R.A. is presently participating in an intensive treatment program. Upon successful completion of this program all pending charges will be resolved with a non-prison disposition. Although, as we know from experience, things don’t always go as planned.

Now, let’s consider the results achieved for client E.R. Following a highly contentious separation from his wife, E.R. was arrested and charged with felony first degree reckless endangering safety from an incident in which he was alleged to have deliberately cut the gas line at his ex-wife’s home in what the prosecution viewed as an attempt to end the lives of his ex-wife and children. The crime of first degree reckless endangering safety is defined by Wisconsin law as follows:

1. The defendant endangered the safety of another human being.

2. The defendant endangered the safety of another by criminally reckless conduct.

“Criminally reckless conduct” means the conduct created a risk of death or great bodily harm to another person; and the risk of death or great bodily harm was unreasonable and substantial; and the defendant was aware that his or her conduct created the unreasonable and substantial risk of death or great bodily harm.

“Great bodily harm” means injury which creates a substantial risk of death, or which causes serious permanent disfigurement, or which causes a permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ, or other serious bodily injury.

3. The circumstances of the defendant’s conduct showed utter disregard for human life. In determining whether the circumstances of the conduct showed utter disregard for human life, consider these factors: what the defendant was doing; why the defendant was engaged in that conduct; how dangerous the conduct was; how obvious the danger was; whether the conduct showed any regard for life; and all other facts and circumstances relating to the conduct.

E.R. acknowledged tripping over a gas line while visiting the property but fastidiously denied that he caused any damage intentionally. Certainly a simple accident could not constitute “criminally reckless conduct” as described above. Knowing that an accidental tear could be distinguished from and intentional cutting, Attorney Orth enlisted the assistance of an expert from the National Association of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners and was ultimately able to convince the prosecuting attorney that no crime at all had been committed resulting in the dismissal of the first degree reckless endangering safety charge.

And then there is client G.T., a U.W. Madison student. G.T. had a not-so-great evening recently. Following a bit more imbibement than good judgment would recommend, G.T. woke up to find that he had been issued a criminal charge of disorderly conduct. It turns out that passing out in a stranger’s front lawn can be viewed as criminally disturbing behavior. Given G.T.’s relative youth and lack of any criminal history, it would seem a shame to have G.T.’s reputation marred by even a criminal charge being filed, much less a conviction being sought. In such situations it is critical to have experienced and aggressive representation that knows when and how to intervene to get the best possible outcome. Where some attorneys might simply wait for the court date assigned to G.T., enter a not guilty plea and then attempt to negotiate a favorable disposition at a later time, Attorney Orth took a more proactive approach. Knowing that police reports and a charging recommendation would be filed with the District Attorney’s Office within the few weeks following the incident, he made contact with the District Attorney’s Office on a daily basis until the case was under review for a charging decision. When that occurred Attorney Orth was able to arrange a meeting with the Assistant District Attorney who was reviewing the case. Following that meeting charges were declined altogether and G.T. was spared with unpleasantness and public humiliation that comes with defending against criminal charges.

10 Key DUI Questions to Ask (and Answer) When Facing a DUI in Wisconsin

10 Key DUI Questions to Ask (and Answer) When Facing a DUI in Wisconsin

When facing a DUI charge in Wisconsin, it is critical to ensure that you are making informed decisions. There is a lot you need to know; and, if you make uninformed decisions, you could find yourself facing unnecessary consequences.

Making informed decisions starts with understanding the questions you need to ask. With this in mind, here are 10 key DUI questions to ask (and answer) when facing a DUI charge in Wisconsin:

Question #1: Which Type of DUI Charge Are You Facing?

There are two types of drunk driving charges in Wisconsin. If you took the breathalyzer during your DUI stop and blew above the legal limit, you are most likely being charged with prohibited alcohol concentration (PAC). If you refused the breathalyzer, couldn’t generate a reading, or blew under the legal limit, you are most likely being charged with operating while intoxicated (OWI).

While PAC and OWI charges are similar in some respects, there are also several key differences. As a result, determining whether you are facing a PAC charge or an OWI charge is one of the first steps toward determining what defenses you have available.

Question #2: Are You Facing Any Other Charges?

Along with determining whether you are facing a PAC charge or an OWI charge, you also need to determine whether you are facing any other charges as a result of your drunk driving arrest. There are several possibilities, including (but not limited to):

  • An implied consent violation (chemical test refusal)
  • An open container violation
  • Reckless driving and/or other traffic violations
  • Causing injury while OWI
  • Causing great bodily harm while OWI
  • Homicide while OWI

Each of these charges carries different penalties, and some of these charges are far more serious than others. But, you need to take all of the charges against you seriously, as any type of conviction can lead to financial costs and other consequences.

Question #3: When Is Your First Court Date?

Another key piece of information you need after a DUI arrest is your first court date. You need to make plans to be there on time, as failing to do so can have consequences regardless of whether you were driving under the influence. If you don’t show up, you can be charged with failure to appear, and this can result in a bench warrant being issued for your arrest.

Question #4: What Penalties Are You Facing?

Understanding the penalties you are facing will also help you make informed decisions about your defense. At a minimum, you are facing several hundred dollars in fines and surcharges plus a six to nine-month driver’s license suspension. But, if you are a repeat offender, or if you are being charged with causing a serious accident while driving under the influence, the penalties you are facing could be far greater.

Question #5: What Additional Consequences Are You Facing?

Along with court-imposed penalties, a PAC or OWI conviction can lead to various other consequences as well. These include everything from increased auto insurance premiums to disciplinary action if you are a licensed professional. Between increased insurance premiums, consequences for your career, and other financial costs, the collateral consequences of a drunk driving conviction can far exceed the costs you face in court.

Question #6: What Defenses Can You Assert in Court?

Given all that you have at stake, you must fight your PAC or OWI charge by all means available. Once you know what charge (or charges) you are facing, then you can determine which defenses you can use to protect yourself. Here, too, there are lots of possibilities—and the key is to ensure that you put together the strongest defense strategy possible in light of all relevant facts and circumstances.

Question #7: Do You Have Other Options for Avoiding a DUI Conviction?

Let’s say you were driving under the influence and prosecutors have the evidence they need to prove it. In this scenario, fighting your PAC or OWI charge in court might not be your best option. Instead, it might be best to consider another option—such as negotiating a plea bargain or entering into one of Wisconsin’s pre-trial diversion programs. Negotiating a plea bargain typically means facing the reduced consequences of a “wet reckless,” while entering into a pre-trial diversion program allows eligible defendants to avoid a conviction entirely.

Question #8: What Is Your Best Option Based on the Available Evidence?

Examining all of the available evidence will allow you to make an informed decision about how best to approach your case. This is a critical decision that could impact your life for years to come, so you need to ensure that you make it wisely.

Question #9: What Can a DUI Defense Lawyer Do to Help You?

When you are facing a DUI charge in Wisconsin, hiring an experienced defense lawyer is the best way to ensure that you are making informed decisions about your case. There are lots of ways an experienced defense lawyer will be able to help you, and you should schedule a free consultation to learn more as soon as possible.

Question #10: How Much Will You Pay for Your Legal Representation?

When you schedule a free consultation with a DUI defense lawyer, you should be able to find out exactly how much your legal representation is going to cost you. There should be no hidden costs or fees, and you should be able to weigh the costs of your legal representation against the potential costs of trying to handle your Wisconsin drunk driving case on your own.

Contact Us for a Free and Confidential Consultation with a Madison DUI Lawyer

If you are facing a drunk driving (PAC or OWI) charge in Wisconsin and would like to know more about your case, we encourage you to get in touch. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with a Madison DUI lawyer at Mays Law Office, please call 608-257-0440 or request an appointment online today.