Interviewer: When people come in, do you find that they have misconceptions about the process? What would you say are the top misconceptions that they have?
Brian Geno: They think because it’s their first DUI that they have a very high likelihood that it’s going to be dropped. Also, a lot of them think that they have to be read their rights before they can be arrested.
Interviewer: Do you see a lot of people say, “Hey, the police didn’t read me my Miranda rights. Could you get my case thrown out?”
Brian Geno: Yeah. They tell me that a lot. Or someone will do a search without them consenting and they think that that’s going to make a big difference. It’s basically that they don’t quite understand the law. They’re relying on TV to be their lawyer and that’s definitely not the place to get good legal advice because Miranda is definitely a legal concept, but it’s not the one they think.
The same goes with not consenting to a search. That also has a huge loophole, if they only knew it. Either the search was done without them consenting or they weren’t read their rights would be the reason they typically believe they have a really great defense.
Possible Penalties as a Result of DUI Conviction
Interviewer: Do people realize that their case is kind of two-fold: one is a driver’s license, non-criminal, administrative type scenario; and the other one is the criminal side, and both have to be defended?
Brian Geno: They usually do not. I mean, when I tell people about the fact that, if they lose a DWI, their license would be suspended in Virginia, it’s for a whole year that is pretty much a shock. If I tell them that if they lose their case, they’re going to have to put what’s called an ignition interlock device a machine that you have to blow into every time just to start your car and that stays in there for six months to a year they didn’t imagine that.
They didn’t know that their driver’s license would be restricted so that they can only drive to and from work, to and from probation classes, to and from a select number of things and that’s it. That’s a huge inconvenience. Sometimes it’s a real killer to someone’s profession. If they have to drive clients around and they have to blow in this device before they can start their car with their client present, that looks terribly embarrassing to a DWI defendant.
Sometimes it affects someone’s immigration status and they could wind up getting deported as a result of it. Now, that’s a big drawback for a lot of my clients because I have a large Latino clientele. They don’t realize that at any time their name comes up with the Immigration Service, the person is going to be asked if they committed any crimes or have any convictions. Even if DWI won’t get you deported by itself, Immigration considers it to be a huge mark against you.
Interviewer: Do you speak Spanish? Are you fluent?
Brian Geno: Well, I’ll say yes. We serve people in Spanish fluently. My Spanish is okay, but I have professional staff that can talk to someone in the most technical way, all with excellent Spanish. To speak Spanish that well would be a little difficult for me, but I give myself three out of five stars. However, I hire people whose Spanish gets five out of five stars.
Is it Advisable to expect Mercy from the Court?
Interviewer: Do people believe there’ll be a mercy of the court they could throw themselves upon? Is there one?
Brian Geno: You should not count on getting a break because many times, particularly if it’s a DWI, for example, you’re not going to get a break simply because you’re a good person, because you go to church, or because you’re a single mom. You’re just not. You may get a break for something; it’s just that you can’t count on it. It’s usually not because you’re a good person or you volunteer or you’re a good Republican or you’re a good schoolteacher. That’s just not going to get you anywhere in the courts.
Interviewer: Yeah. I’m just curious if that was a misconception of people.
Brian Geno: Yes, definitely. There’s one particular area where they really do give you a break and it has nothing to do with you being good. It has everything to do with having a clean record beforehand, and that would be possession of marijuana and the other one is shoplifting. Other than that, you can’t count on a break.