Below are Questions our Clients Ask, Along with My Responses:
1. How can I contact you and when can I meet with you?
Daytime contact can be on one of four (4) methods:
- Local Telephone: 601-969-DUIS (3847)
- Nationwide Toll-Free: 800-360-DUIS (3847)
- Office Phone: 601-948-4444
Normally, your call or e-mail will be received by my office receptionist and/or my legal staff. Initial information about your case should be taken in a telephone or office conference and either of these conferences are free as your initial consultation. Normally, an office conference is scheduled the day of your contact or within a few days thereafter.
2. What effect does a DUI conviction have on my record?
In Mississippi, a DUI conviction stays on your driving record for five (5) years, during which time any additional DUI convictions will increase the punishment. The charge itself will be on your record (rap sheet) for life. The DUI charge can have an adverse effect on your employment, especially if driving is a major part of your work duties. In addition, the DUI conviction will cause you to obtain SR-22 insurance (also known as high risk insurance) for three years. Only high risk insurance companies write SR-22 insurance. Should you drop the insurance, your driving license in Mississippi wll once again be suspended. Should you be charged with driving while your license is suspended in Mississippi, the fine is $500; there is a ten-day to six-month jail term, and your license is suspended for an additional six months. The DUI charge on your record could also cause you problems with your credit report and with rental car companies.
These problems occur when DUIs appear on your record. You always have the opportunity to contest DUIs, to take the matter to court, and in almost every case DUIs should be fought to obtain an outright acquittal or a non-DUI disposition. These are some of the reasons that I fight for an acquittal in your case.
3. What does a plea in a DUI trial mean?
There are basically three types of pleas in DUI cases. The first plea is taken on a date called an “arraignment” date, usually your first court appearance. At the arraignment, the court will ask how you plead. Should you plead guilty, then the court will proceed to make a finding of guilty and assess fines, court costs, and the appropriate jail sentence. Should you plead not guilty, the court will assign you a trial date. You will appear in court later, where you may change your plea from not guilty to guilty, or you may plead nolo, which means “nolo contendere” or no contest. In any of these pleas: a plea of not guilty, a plea of guilty, or a plea of no contest, the judge must still make a finding. It is only in a plea of not guilty, however, that a trial will ensue. At the end of the trial, the judge makes a finding of guilty or not guilty at the Municipal or Justice Court level. If there is a no contest (nolo contendere) or guilty plea made, then the court proceeds to make a finding of guilt and impose a fine and jail term consistent with the law on DUIs.
4. If I had a drunk driving (or impaired driving) conviction in another state, will it show up in Mississippi?
Drunk driving convictions from other states can show up in Mississippi in any number of ways. Most states are now linked together through computer systems run by law enforcement agencies for the purposes of sharing information one state to another. This information can be accessed by either the court, or the prosecutor, or the Highway Patrol. Should this information become available under certain circumstances, these previous convictions can be used to enhance or increase the punishment for a subsequent DUI arrest here in the state of Mississippi if said convictions are within the last five (5) years of the date of the current charge in the state of Mississippi. Sometimes these convictions do not show up, and our job as your attorney would be to fight any convictions that happen out of state.
5. I now have your questionnaire to prepare and I'm having a difficult time remembering each and every detail. Why is the questionnaire needed and what is its purpose?
The information that I request in your questionnaire is considered to be part of the attorney work product. That is to say, it is privileged information between you and me. The information is further requested so that I may understand the facts and circumstances in your case, which would give me the ability to question the officer at trial about certain aspects that we think are important in your defense. It also assists me in any sort of DUI litigation and with the government in any negotiations concerning your case.
6. How do you decide if my case should go to trial?
When we receive the questionnaire, we review it to determine which court of action would be the best for your case. I review every questionnaire personally. This enables me to compare your answers with information we receive from law enforcement reports. This comparison of answers and reports forms the basis of my preparation for trial in the Municipal or Justice courts.
We also evaluate which court will decide your case. We also take into account how many alcohol-related or drug-related offenses you may have had in your lifetime. Lastly, we look to see if there are any extenuating circumstances that would require any special defense. Considering the information provided, I can make the best recommendation to you either at your free consultation, or as the ongoing court process unfolds.
7. How will a DUI arrest affect my out-of-state license?
Mississippi cannot suspend an out-of-state license; only your home state can suspend your license. Mississippi can only suspend your privilege to drive in this state. A refusal to submit to an officer's request for a breath, blood, or urine test MAY result in a suspension in Mississippi (if we are unsuccessful at the administrative hearing), but MAY or MAY NOT cause you to be suspended in your home state. The rules for handling a refusal report from Mississippi vary in each state. Some states do nothing in the non-resident driver's home state for a “refusal” to be tested in Mississippi.
8. The officer took my license. When can I get it back?
Mississippi law permits an officer to confiscate the license of any motorist who is arrested for DUI. Do not just apply for a new license because you can create even more problems for yourself. At your free consultation, ask us about how and when you may seek to have your license returned, or possibly retrieved from the prosecutor so that you can have your plastic license prior to trial.
9. Do I need a lawyer?
Every person can represent himself or herself in court. Because DUI is such a critical matter, however, it is not generally a wise choice to go to court unrepresented. Your right to drive, your freedom and your future employment options may hang in the balance. The choice is yours. We advise taking advantage of our free consultation to see whether you want to hire an attorney.
10. What is the “10-day” rule applicable to administrative license suspension matters?
In Mississippi, if you either refused to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test, the state will attempt to suspend your license or privilege to drive for 90 days to one year. This attempt to take away your right to drive will occur PRIOR to any criminal trial for DUI (in most cases) and will be automatically entered against you unless you file a test refusal petition within 10 calendar days after the mailing of a notice of letter of intent to suspend. Filing an test refusal petition does not postpone the suspension. In a significant percentage of cases, we are able to prevent any suspension. The license you receive when there has been a refusal to take a state-administered test is valid for only forty-five (45) days from the date of the arrest. This license cannot be renewed or extended for any period of time. The test refusal hearing is an informal hearing. There will not be a jury. This is an additional proceeding that we handle for you. The decision will be announced at the administrative hearing to agree with the State to suspend your license or to return it to you. The hearing is needed to determine if you wll be able to retain your driving privileges until the end of your DUI case or if you will lose the right to drive in Mississippi prior to your trial. In additional, this hearing offers us a great opportunity to cross-examine the officer under oath about the facts of your case.
11. Why should I hire you as my attorney?
I have the best staffed office in Mississippi, which limits its cases to defense of DUI charges. I am a former police lieutenant and have been trained and certified in breath testing drivers and field sobriety exercises. I am certified in advanced training courses on police arrest procedures and on criminal trial practice. I have been board certified by the National College of DUI Defense. In addition, I am a member of a national network of other DUI practitioners who exchange and share information about new DUI laws, national and local trends in the law, and trial tactics. In short, I strive to give my clients the best representation possible.
12. Why am I receiving mail from attorneys seeking to represent me?
The United States Supreme Court has ruled that “commercial free speech” is protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Hence, some attorneys choose to hire companies to go to each police station and look up the names and addresses of everyone arrested in a given period. Then a mass mailing is sent, hoping to “attract” potential clients. Many of our clients come to this office with a number of letters, including my own. Some of the letters focus on pleading guilty, a resolution which I rarely consider until all other viable options are explored.
13. If I am convicted, what is the worst thing that can happen to me?
The “minimum” punishment information is published elsewhere in this Web site. You should read this carefully, paying special attention to increased punishment requirements if you have prior offenses. Beyond these “guidelines,” we have to evaluate your case based upon the facts, the prosecutor, your record, and propensity of the judge in his/her sentencing for DUI cases. We will review these details at your free consultation.
14. Will I get a harsher sentence if I fight the case than if I plead guilty?
That depends on many factors. This question is one that is case-specific and judge-specific. Some judges may punish a person more after a jury trial than in a bench trial (a trial in front of the judge only). Judges in Mississippi have the discretion to allow a jury or a bench trial. Your case may have a fantastic legal issue that needs to be appealed to a higher court, and this may require some sort of trial to be able to obtain the right of appeal. Be sure to discuss any concerns you may have about these issues at your free consultation.
15. Do I need to see an alcohol (or drug) counselor?
Maybe. I always encourage anyone facing alcohol-related or drug-related offenses to get an ASSESSMENT for any potential problem that may exist. If this offense is not your first alcohol-related offense, our free consultation with you will likely result in a recommendation that a private assessment be conducted. There are many reasons that this is a wise thing to do, not the least of which is correcting a costly and potentially dangerous health problem. We will discuss how this assessment (and treatment, if recommended by your counselor) can be a “silver lining” for even a very bad case. We have lists of counselors if you need names and phone numbers.
16. Should I go to driving school (MASEP) now?
No. MASEP (Mississippi Alcohol Safety Education Program) is a course given over the course of a month in four (4) three hour sessions. The MASEP course will lower your license suspension from one (1) year to ninety (90) days. The course is available to those convicted of a DUI first offense.
17. If I fight the case and lose, do I get any money refunded on legal fees?
No. Unlike personal injury cases in which an attorney can agree to accept a percentage of any financial recovery in a CIVIL case, the State Bar of Mississippi prohibits “contingency” fees in criminal cases. With a surgeon, not every operation is a success. Yet, would you go back and ask for a refund of fees paid? No, because an attorney (like a surgeon) is compensated for his/her time, knowledge, expertise, and legal acumen. This is our “product.” In addition, I set a “fixed” fee, not hourly, so you will know how much you will pay for legal services.
18. Beyond legal fees, what other costs or expenses will I have in this case if I fight it?
Disregarding fines (which are covered in the Web site), there are some costs in the typical DUI case. I use court reporters to prepare transcripts of City and Justice Court trials for use in later hearings. This cost is usually in the Two Hundred Dollar ($200) range. In addition, there is a cost for an appeal bond from lower courts to higher courts for additional trials. And on occasion, expenses for expert witnesses will be incurred should the case require their testimony. These costs will be explained at your free consultation.
19. Do we have any control over which judge or prosecutor I get for my case?
As a general rule, no. Computer assignments or rotation of judges makes most court assignments for each case random. We have very little input about how a case is assigned, or which prosecutor will handle it.
20. Does the fact that Mr. Carmody is so well known hurt my chances to get a favorable disposition without trial?
Not that we can tell, based upon our results and the results that we see other attorneys obtain. We strive to project an image of being fully prepared whenever we come to court, and we want every prosecutor, judge, and police officer to know that. We don't “attack” police officers unless there is a good cause to do so, yet we thoroughly cross-examine them about every important aspect of an arrest. Many times, the very fact that the prosecutor knows we are there in court to fight helps us get “deals” that some other attorneys might not be offered. We want the prosecutors, police officers, and the courts to know that we are “ready,” and will represent our client to the fullest extent permitted by law.