The District Courts in Arkansas are the number one way that small cities and
municipalities generate revenue. Fines, fees, and court costs generate millions of
dollars for larger cities, and the judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officers all
If you suspect that means that the police have an incentive to pull you over
and write you a citation, and the judge has an incentive to find you guilty, you
are correct. Not to mention that in Arkansas, District Courts are not "courts of
record" - this means that there is no court reporter, so the judge can do
whatever he/she wants, with no appellate review of his/her actions.
So if the system is stacked against you in District Court, what good will it do you to hire a lawyer?
The answer is very simple: IT CAN MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE!
The reasons are many:
- A lawyer with experience in the District Court where you are scheduled to
appear knows the "ins and outs" of that Court. He knows what judge is likely
to agree to certain types of plea bargains. He knows what evidence the judge
is likely to let into court, and what evidence the judge is likely to exclude. He
has a working relationship with the prosecutor, which opens up lots of
possible resolutions to your case. He also knows the court clerks, which
makes scheduling go much more smoothly, and can potentially allow you to
avoid having to appear for at least one scheduled appearance.
An earlier citation is always easier to "fix" than a later one. Right now, you
may be thinking "I'll just pay the fine... I'm sure I won't get another charge."
The problem with that is that if you DO pick up another charge, your options
are that much more limited the next time around. You want to put up a
strong defense on the first charge, to mitigate against additional damage if
you pick up a later one.
An experienced lawyer will have a lot of "tools in his toolbox," some of which
you don't even know exist. Attorneys at The Bargar Law Firm routinely work
with prosecutors to get misdemeanor charges reduced to non-criminal
offenses, or work out deals resulting in deferred adjudication, involving the
payment of some minor fines, and the dismissal of the underlying charge.
Very rarely do District Court cases result in incarceration upon disposition
(an exception would be conviction for DWI or subsequent DWI, which may
require some jail time - this varies by jurisdiction).
Some misdemeanor criminal cases have serious negative ramifications that
you may not be aware of. Did you know that in Arkansas, if you are convicted
of Battery 3rd Degree, you can still hold a Registered Nursing license, but if
you are convicted of Domestic Battery 3rd Degree, you may be barred from
holding the same license for life.? These are both Class A level Misdemeanors,
but if you are convicted of one of them, you could lose your career.
Often, once a client hires us, we are able to conclude their case without the
client ever stepping into court. We can't know for sure if this is possible
before accepting any given case, but we are able to do so in more than one-
half of the cases we handle.