Two More High-End OWI Clients Avoid Prison
It is not unusual for individuals charged with fifth-or-sixth-offense OWI offenses in Dane County to be sentenced to prison. In two recent cases, Chirafisi & Verhoff clients had one goal in mind: to stay out of prison. Fortunately, they each avoided that fate. In the first case, Attorney Verhoff was able to convince the prosecutor that although the client was guilty of a sixth-offense OWI, she should recommend a probation sentence. She agreed to do so, and the judge accepted the recommendation.
The second case was a bit more dicey. The facts were not in the client's favor. He was convicted of using an inhalant and placed on probation. The day after he was sentenced in that case, he was again arrested for using an inhalant -- this time after passing out in traffic while huffing. The client originally had a different attorney on the case, but turned to Attorney Verhoff for help on advice from a friend. Attorney Verhoff went to work tracking down certain records to see what defense could be mounted. Through negotiation, he was able to chip away at the prosecutor. Ultimately, the prosecutor agreed to recommend an imposed and stayed sentence for probation. At the plea and sentencing hearing, however, things started to look bleak. Although the prosecutor recommended probation, the judge, upset by the facts of the case informed the parties it was likely the recommendation would not be followed. The judge allowed Attorney Verhoff to take a break to speak with the client to see if the client still wished to proceed, knowing it was likely he would be sent to prison. As he walked from the courtroom, several other lawyers commented to him that the judge's comments were "brutal" and things "did not look good" for the client. After speaking with the client and resuming the hearing, Attorney Verhoff asked the judge for an opportunity to clarify some of the comments she made about the case and opinions she appeared to have formed. He then vigorously argued why a probation sentence made more sense than a prison sentence. By the time he finished the argument, the judge had changed her mind. She agreed with Attorney Verhoff and indicated she would place the client on probation. At the conclusion the prosecutor commented that Attorney Verhoff had "clearly changed the judge's mind" with his argument. Another lawyer watching hearing said that Attorney Verhoff had "pulled his client out of the fire" and that he had "never seen a judge change their mind like that before."