Lousy plea offers. More trials.

Jamison KoehlerCriminal Procedure, D.C. Superior Court, Sentencing, Trial Advocacy

During the pandemic, criminal defense lawyers got spoiled with the favorable plea offers.  With dockets backing up, the government was desperate to resolve cases through non-trial dispositions.  One prosecutor compared it to a “fire sale.” Those times are over. I have noticed this.  My colleagues have noticed this.  And a long-time judge on the felony calendar who knows about these …

Checking the room for U.S. Marshalls

Jamison KoehlerD.C. Superior Court, Sentencing

Judges love to keep us in suspense. Before announcing a verdict or a sentence, they like to give us a detailed description of the reasoning behind their decision.  They say “on the one hand” and “on the other” quite a bit.  This is because they want to document that they considered all the angles. This can be excruciating.  After all, …

Court-appointed lawyers do not get paid more for a plea

Jamison KoehlerSentencing

I have worked with this particular court-appointed client now on a number of cases, and I guess he is beginning to feel more comfortable with me.  “Give it to me straight, Mr. Koehler,” he says to me over the phone.  “You get paid more money if I cop to a plea on this case, don’t you?”

You Can’t Plead Guilty Without Admitting Guilt

Jamison KoehlerCriminal Procedure, Sentencing

I am watching a guilty plea from the gallery. The prosecutor reads out the alleged facts from the police report, and the defendant says, yes, that is what happened. The colloquy continues. The defendant then tells the judge that she is not actually guilty. The only reason she is taking the government’s deal is because her lawyer made her. And, …

No Strong-Arming of Defendants Into Accepting Pleas

Jamison KoehlerOpinions/Cases, Sentencing

When the two defendants opted for trial, rejecting a deferred sentencing agreement that had been offered by the government, Judge Brian Holeman may have been doing them a favor when he warned them that they would face certain jail-time if convicted.  After all, that is exactly what happened. At the same time, as the D.C. Court of Appeals held yesterday …

Let Me Talk To The Judge

Jamison KoehlerCriminal Procedure, Sentencing

Whenever a group of defendants are lined up before the court to do misdemeanor guilty pleas, one or two will often try to back out at the last minute. If the defendant is quibbling with something the prosecutor has just read from the police report, the parties can usually find common ground on facts that still make out every element …

And Sometimes You Go To Jail

Jamison KoehlerSentencing

Your client is released from jail after serving his sentence, and texts you on his way home.  You were defense counsel in the case that sent him there. You both knew after the conviction but before sentencing that he would be serving some jail-time. Your client had plenty of time to get his affairs in order.  Still, it is disconcerting …

U.S. Capitol building

No More Weekends in DUI Cases

Jamison KoehlerDUI and Driving Offenses, Sentencing

Always looking out for the best interests of clients, Michael Bruckheim has come up with a creative way for getting around the new requirement in D.C. that mandatory days of incarceration in DUI cases be served back-to-back. According to the new law that took effect in August 2012, second-time DUI offenders who are sentenced to a mandatory-minimum period of incarceration …

Being Found Guilty After Pleading Guilty

Jamison KoehlerCriminal Procedure, Sentencing

  If you plead guilty, there is a 100% chance that you will be found guilty. Or something like that. I read that on the Internet a few weeks ago and, while I can’t remember who said it for attribution, I had the opportunity to use this clever little phrase just the other day. It is what you tell a …

Aerial view of DC

On the Defendant’s Acceptance of Responsibility at Sentencing

Jamison KoehlerCriminal Procedure, DUI and Driving Offenses, Sentencing

Earlier this week, I caught the tail-end of a DWI trial in which Michael Bruckheim was representing the defendant. Bruckheim had attended portions of my last DWI trial in D.C., and I decided to repay the favor. I wanted to see him cross examine the same police officer who had testified in my case. And, recognizing that everyone has a …