DUI Sentences: Mitigation Witnesses
Key character witnesses save jail time in DUI cases
Most states have mandatory minimum laws that make it impossible for judges to impose anything less the required minimum sentence at a DUI sentencing hearing. In other states, judges are given discretion as to the sentence they may impose. In deciding what type of sentence should be given, evidence that would not otherwise be admissible against a DUI defendant at trial may be heard by a judge at a sentencing hearing. For example, comments on the defendant’s character in the form of letters of recommendation or personal statements may be given.
In states that permit it, letters of recommendation may be written to the court, or people may go speak on a defendant’s behalf regarding his character at a sentencing hearing. Although a judge is not required to weigh such information, he may take it into account. When making the decision of whether to order incarceration, for example, such information could be relevant. Only trustworthy and reliable offenders are offered house arrest and other jail alternatives, so the more people you have to vouch for you, the better. It is not uncommon for defense attorneys to ask their clients to gather recommendations from family, friends, coworkers, etc. early in their case. That way the information is ready should it be necessary. Not every state allows this type of evidence, however, so be sure to check your local laws for applicability. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your DUI sentencing hearing, contact an experienced DUI attorney in your state for more information.