Do I Want My Family Law Attorney to Defend Me on a DWI Charge?
You’ve been through a divorce or are in the middle of a divorce proceeding, and you get pulled over for drunk driving. You know you need a lawyer and you don’t really want to go through the process of finding another attorney. Can you just ask your family law attorney to handle your DWI? After all, an attorney is an attorney, right? Any lawyer should be able to handle a DWI.
There may be some instances where the attorney who handled your divorce can defend you on a DWI charge, but you can’t simply assume that that will or should happen. The important thing to understand is that the family law and criminal law processes are very different.
In fact, divorce cases are governed by the rules of civil procedure, whereas criminal procedures are applicable in criminal cases. If your attorney only handles divorce and family law, there’s a good chance that he or she won’t have a solid grasp of the most basic rules that govern a criminal case, and likely won’t know how best to protect your rights. Here are a couple of the key differences between a family law case and a criminal case:
- The burden of proof—In a criminal case, the prosecutor must show guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In a divorce case, you must only show that your version of the facts is more likely than your ex-spouse’s version of the facts. An attorney who does not handle criminal cases with any regularity will not understand what constitutes reasonable doubt.
- What you have to lose—In a DWI case, if you lose, you can face fines, incarceration and loss of driving privileges. In a family law case, no one will go to jail and no one will lose a license. Because of the differences, it can be difficult for an attorney who doesn’t handle DWI cases to know how to effectively plea bargain.
Contact the Law Offices of John E. Kusturiss, Jr.
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