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The need for competent counsel in DUI cases

While many commentators have suggested that Kerry Kennedy was found not guilty of drug driving due to her family name, she credits her acquittal on that of "competent counsel."  The trial itself lasted four days.  The jury deliberations took less than an hour.

Ms. Kennedy further stated that she had the finances to hire such counsel while many others charged with similar crimes do not.  She feels that this can result in individuals pleading guilty to offenses that they did not commit due to the manner in which plea deals are negotiated.

Ms Kennedy's trial did not take place in Virginia. However, it is entirely possible that she could have charged with a similar offense in our state.

She was charged with a misdemeanor account of driving while under the influence of drugs. She testified that while thinking she was taking her thyroid medication, she instead accidentally took a sleeping pill. Witnesses claim that she was swerving upon the roadway for a number of miles before sideswiping a tractor-trailer.

While prosecutors argued that Ms. Kennedy was treated like every other individual pulled over for similar charges, her attorney claimed that the matter would never have gone to trial if she had not been a member of the Kennedy family. In any event, she could have faced up to a year in prison if convicted.

Without actually being in court and examining all of the evidence, it's difficult to know which version is correct. However, anyone charged with a DUI or other traffic-related offense does have the right to counsel in order to be defended when charges are brought.

Source: Today News, "Kerry Kennedy: People saying I banked on family name in court are 'wrong'," Eun Kyung Kim, March 3, 2014

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