It saddens me the way some DUI cases are handled in the State of Tennessee. Some lawyers think these are easy cases. They take a client’s money. No investigation is done. Then a plea of guilty as charged. A recent case illustrated this point.
The charge was a felony DUI. In Tennessee, it requires three prior DUI convictions. If convicted, a minimum jail sentence of 150 days and a loss of license for at least eight years. This individual’s first lawyer wanted them to plea guilty as charged to the felony DUI. I took over the case. I reviewed the prior criminal record. One of the prior convictions was invalid and could not be used to enhance the punishment to a felony DUI. Just reviewing the record saved someone from a felony. Then it got worst.
On another charge, a plea was entered to two DUI seconds with a jail sentence. The prior charge was invalid in the like in the felony case. A person did a jail sentence without an investigation of the prior record. I wonder how many lawyers in Tennessee do not review the prior criminal convictions.
If your charged with a second, third, or felony DUI in Tennessee, you must get a copy of the prior convictions. The same holds true if you are an attorney handling these cases. Over the years of defending DUI cases, I have seen judgments not signed by the judge. One clerk’s office in Alabama destroys the convictions after five years. On occasion, a waiver of counsel has not been signed. All of which could make a prior conviction invalid. It is critical to review the record before pleading guilty to any enhanced DUI.