A couple of hard learned lessons from criminal court in DC.

  • Certain criminal activity doesn’t have a sentence associated with it. When that happens, go for misdemeanor 180/$1000. This is especially true for inchoate crimes (attempt, conspiracy, etc.).
  • Crimes that stem from the same event should always be argued as concurrent sentences. Remember the rule – if it stems from the same event or facts, treat it as one clump. See? That rhymes.
  • Always prep your client with the plea proffer before the prosecutor reads it to the judge. If you don’t do that, expect all hell to break lose. It’s also malpractice. The proffer is a key area to negotiate, as the facts often lead up to the degree or severity of the sentence. An example will help with this:


    The man went to the house and stabbed his wife in front of his child.


    The man received a text from his ex-wife to come to the house and watch their children. When he arrived, an altercation ensued when the ex-wife saw sexually explicit email and pictures on his phone. During the course of the altercation, the man stabbed his wife. He was unaware that his son was observing the event.

    Which of the two above would be easier to argue at sentencing? Review and negotiate all proffers of substance.

  • When discussing probation, always be specific as to the level of probation required. Does the Court permit phone contact or no supervision? If so, make sure that is written in the agreement.
  • Always make sure your client has a home address before probation get’s a-hold of her.

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