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Will past good deeds help in your criminal defense?

We all make mistakes, but not all of us make profound and positive contributions to our communities. But what happens if you make lots of big mistakes and lots of big contributions to the community? Perhaps, community leaders will come to your aid and support you by speaking in favor of your good name and past good works.

Normally, when someone gets arrested on a sixth offense DUI charge, the person is described by news media and public officials as if he or she were the dirge of the community. However, that's not what happened in the case of a 56-year-old bar owner who was arrested and later convicted of a sixth operating while intoxicated charge in August.

Officers said that they received reports of the drunk man trying to get into his truck at 11:30 p.m. on Aug. 11. When police arrived, they found him urinating on his feet and on the ground, and they told him not to drive. Next, police saw the man get in his truck and drive away, so they pulled him over and arrested him on intoxicated driving charges after he failed his Breathalyzer and field sobriety tests. He pleaded "no contest" in court and accepted the felony sixth OWI offense conviction.

However, even though the man has broken drunk driving laws on numerous occasions, the Wisconsin Dells police chief wrote a letter to the court in his support, saying that the driver "is a valuable member of the Wisconsin Dells community," that "he has always helped with community events and fundraisers through donations and promotions with his business" and that he is "committed to his sobriety and embarrassed by his past actions," and for this reason the police chief recommended that the man be sentenced to electronic monitoring instead of jail time. An addiction counselor working with the man also wrote a letter in support of electronic monitoring.

At this time, we do not know how the court will decide the man's case. However, it's clearly an example of how past good deeds might be used -- at the very least to try -- to sway the court's opinion to receive a more lenient sentence in a drunk driving case.

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