Summit defense attorney launches Frisco-based private practice
Sanam Mehrnia, a Frisco-based defense attorney, recently started her own practice. Having practiced law for four-and-a-half years, she moved up to Summit after working as a criminal defense attorney in Denver.
After working for the Law Offices of Todd Barson, P.C., she stepped forward to form her own firm. Incorporated at the end of October, Mehrnia said she set out to take more cases to trial, instead of pleading cases out with few offers extended.
“I want to build a practice where people know I’m not afraid to go to trial,” she said. “I won’t try to talk (a client) into a plea if I do think it’s a case that should go to trial.”
While relatively young compared to the familiar faces of local criminal defense attorneys Todd Barson and J.B. Katz, Mehrnia has a few victories of her own under her belt.
Last May, she defended Lake Dillon Tavern of alleged liquor code violations, resulting in the business being found not guilty on six of seven charges. The citations were filed in January, just before former Dillon police chief Brian Brady resigned in the midst of a perjury investigation (No charges were filed).
“It’s been a good case because I feel I’m fighting for what’s right,” she said. “What makes this job very stressful is the fact that I care about my clients. I do care about what happens to them.”
MOVING TO THE MOUNTAINS
Just two years ago, she moved from Denver to Summit, noting the differences in criminal defense between a major metropolitan area and a mountain community. With less violent or aggravated crimes and more DUIs and minor drug offenses, most defendants in Summit County face less severe consequences. Still, the pressure of defending a client can be enormous.
“The way I deal with it, at the end of the day, I did the best I can do,” she said. “I take the time and I talk to my clients. I put in the time to research and prepare for my trials.”
She said the vast majority of cases she sees, up to 90 percent, are for DUIs. While a case might seem straightforward, the limited resources for individuals charged with a DUI out on bond can be difficult to navigate.
For example, individuals charged with a DUI must report to breath testing three times per week. However, there is only one facility — BI Incorporated — in the county that can conduct testing, and it is only open during business hours. This leaves few options for those who work during the day and cannot drive to testing.
“It’s really difficult to maneuver what you have to do to stay out of trouble once you are in the system,” Mehrnia said.
The cost of undergoing testing is also considerable.
For other cases, such as a traffic ticket with little room for dispute, she said she is up-front with potential clients about what she can do. For example, if a client approaches her with a case that would just involve 20 minutes of advice, she won’t ask for their money.
“I think it’s important to tell a client off the bat what you perceive that you can do for them and what you can’t,” she said.
In the end, she maintains her practice is fueled by her clients’ best interest.
“The way I look at it, regardless of whether you’re guilty or not, everyone deserves representation,” she said. “Even if you’re guilty, people make mistakes. The important part is to learn from those mistakes and find what’s best for your client.”
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