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30 Years of Daily Courtroom Experience
Los Angeles DUI Lawyer Blog
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If you have been arrested for a Los Angeles DUI, Prosecutors must demonstrate that it can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that you were 1) intoxicated and 2) driving. They must show that both elements exist, and not just one or the other.

You have certain Constitutional Rights that are given to you by the US Constitution. These are very important rights that come into play when you are facing criminal charges. These rights include the right to an attorney, the right to present evidence, the right to a fair trial, the right to be heard. These are all very crucial when it comes to your criminal case and they are rights that should not be taken lightly.

As stated, one of the biggest rights that you have is the right to present evidence at your trial. The type of evidence you would want to produce will require careful planning and discussion. It is a good idea to consult with a Los Angeles DUI lawyer before proceeding to trial. An experienced and knowledgeable lawyer will know the criminal court process, the procedure and the laws so that they can carefully and strategically plan your case. This will require a careful analysis of the facts, of the defenses and the arguments.

After a careful discuss has taken place the attorney will decide what to present to the Court. Evidence can come in different types. One of the most common pieces of evidence that will be presented is the police report. The police report indicates the behavior of the driver, and the blood alcohol level as well as any results of the field sobriety tests.

The police report is very important because it will have to indicate that the officer had probable cause to stop the driver in the first place. It also must show that there was reasonable suspicion for the officer to arrest the driver. These are key, because if there is no probable cause or reasonable suspicion, then the case may have to dismissed completely.

The police report is also important because it will state the officer’s observations and the driver’s test results. These are very crucial in a DUI case because it is strong evidence against the driver. These, of course, can be argued against but it may be a difficult argument.

Additional evidence that may be presented is testimony. The testimony of the officer, of the driver, any passengers and any witnesses. The officer will have strong evidence for the Prosecutor’s side. It is up to the driver, and/or his attorney to be well prepared and have strong evidence to counter that of the officers.

If you are planning to take your DUI case to trial, you need a strong plan of approach. There needs to be careful thought and argument behind each of the pieces of evidence that is to be presented, and to do that, it is highly recommended that you seek the help of a legal professional.

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When you have been charged with drinking under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, you will asked to appear in court on a mandatory appearance. This first appearance is referred to as an Arraignment. At the arraignment one of the advisements you will be given, is your right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, the government will provide one for you. This attorney is referred to as a public defender.

A public defender is a skilled criminal defense attorney that can help represent you in your criminal case. The pay for the public defender will be determined on a sliding scale based upon your income. However, as skillful as public defenders are, there are some drawbacks to having one represent you in your criminal matter.

LACK OF TIME FOR PREPARATION

The only time you meet with your public defender is right before you are called before the Judge on the day of your hearing. Public Defenders have multiple cases before the Judge every single day, and they do not have time to sit and thoroughly prepare your case or meet with you beforehand, they simply do not have the time .In contrast, a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer that in private practice makes your case a priority. They will meet with you initially even prior to hiring, and they will meet with you thereafter as often as necessary. They have time to review your discovery in detail, to call the prosecutor and negotiation charges and potential sentences, and they have time to thoroughly prepare you and discuss each fact and potential defense on your case in detail.

OVERWHELMING CASELOAD

Public defenders are government employees and have a large caseload. They are before the Judge every day representing everyone that needs help. They meet with people right there in the courtroom, discuss their options, and present the case to the Judge minutes after. This is not sufficient time for you to fully understand what is going on, for you to take the time to weigh out each of your options and make an educated decision. It also does not give them any time to speak to potential witnesses, or review potential evidence that could really help your case. With a private attorney with over thirty years of DUI experience, you have plenty of time to present what you need. You have the option of asking the attorney to speak to family or friends, to collect letters of recommendation, as well as speak to potential witnesses or review potential evidence.

If you are faced with charges and cannot afford an attorney do not automatically choose a public defender. Many Los Angeles Lawyers offer payment plans and affordable rates. At the end of the day, you will not be just another case number, but a client that gets the careful time and attention they deserve.

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When you have been stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence, you have not yet been convicted. Chances are you were arrested, and charged under California Vehicle Code §23152 or 23153. These are the California DUI statutes. You have yet to be found guilty of these charges before you can be convicted.

At the time of arrest you will be given a citation. This citation will state the date of your first court appearance and the courthouse at which you must appear. This is not optional, there is no mail in plea option, it is mandatory. Failure to appear at this court date or prior to that court date can result in a warrant out for your arrest and additional charges or sentences. It is a good idea to be present in court the day you are required to be. If you hire a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer, that lawyer may appear on your behalf as long as it is not a felony. In most DUI cases, a lawyer is allowed to appear on behalf of the person being charged. This is a great benefit because it saves you the time, hassle and trouble. It is a very anxiety provoking event and most people would rather not have to address it or deal with it.

That first date on your citation is called an Arraignment. At the arraignment you will be read your rights, potential sentences against you, the charges and you will be asked if you would like to enter a plea. You will also have the opportunity to speak to a prosecutor who will give you a plea bargain, or an offer as an incentive for you to plead guilty and resolve your case right then and there.

Before entering any type of plea or accepting a plea bargain it is a good idea and highly recommended that you speak to a legal professional who has over thirty years of experience. Their input is very beneficial to determining if the plea bargain is a good offer, whether there are any strong defenses or arguments available to you, or if your case is a weak one.

If after speaking to a professional you determine that your case is strong and the offer made by prosecutors is not a good one, it is likely that you would enter a plea of not guilty and the court will set the case for pre trial. At Pre Trial, you, or the lawyer you have on your behalf will negotiate and talk to the prosecutors. The initial plea bargain given at the arraignment will no longer be available, but based upon thorough discussion of cases and facts, the offer at the pre trial might be much better.

If you are not familiar with the courthouses, the Judges or the law, you will not know if the offer being made is a good one, or if it is a weak one. You will not know whether you should take your chances at Pre Trial or accept what is offered at the Arraignment. Therefore, do not hesitate! Consult with an expert right away!

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As discussed in the previous blog, you will be asked certain questions by an officer during a routine DUI stop. An officer needs probable cause for intoxication before he can arrest you for suspicion of driving under the influence. Admissions by the driver and observations made by an officer are just two of the ways an officer can suspect that a person is intoxicated. These will give the officer the probable cause needed to be arrested. These were discussed in the previous blog, Probable Cause During a Los Angeles DUI Stop – Part One. In this second part we discuss additional ways an officer can obtain probable cause.

  1. Field Sobriety Tests

If an officer feels that it is necessary, they can ask that you submit to a field sobriety test. There are several different test that can be administered.

  1. Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

The HGN test is the most accurate of the three field sobriety tests. It involves an officer asking you to follow an object from side to side. The officer is checking for jerking or bouncing of the eyeball. This is an indication that there may be alcohol present in the driver’s system, or even certain drugs.

  1. Walk and Turn

This test is about 68% accurate. The officer will ask the driver to walk a straight line taking nine heel to toe steps. Once the driver has walked the line, they will be asked to turn around and return to the starting point in the same fashion, nine heel to toe steps. If the person does not follow instructions, or starts too early, then that could be an indication that the person is intoxicated.

  1. One Leg Up

This test is about 65% accurate and the officer is required to demonstrate this test to the driver. They are asked to stand with both feet together and arms at the side. They are then asked to lift one leg up and count upwards of 1000.

All these tests must be clearly instructed by the officer and demonstrated if necessary. It is important for there to be clear instructions so as to avoid any procedural issues. If an officer has not given clear instructions, it is possible that the results of the test may be tossed out which could result in no probable cause.

These tests are very subjective with the officers observations being the only source of evidence as to intoxication. If you submitted to these tests and are concerned that you were not given proper instruction or it was impossible to perform due to external circumstances or conditions, it is a good idea to consult with a Los Angeles DUI Attorney as soon as possible. It could be the key to having your DUI charges reduced or dismissed based upon all legal defenses and remedies available to you under California Criminal law.

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You will be asked certain questions by an officer during a routine DUI stop. An officer needs probable cause for intoxication before he can arrest you for suspicion of driving under the influence. There are several different ways to obtain probable cause.

  1. Admissions

Oftentimes, to be compliant, drivers will admit to having been drinking. These statements can be used against you. You have the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and not say anything that could incriminate you. If you do offer an admission, it can later be used as proof of your intoxication, or in the very least of you having consumed alcoholic beverages. Lets consider an example.

Donny is driving home from a birthday party. He has had a few drinks. He is pulled over for speeding, and officers ask him if he has been drinking. He has been drinking and he admits to having had a few beers. This is all officers need to arrest him for suspicion of driving under the influence. Those statements will also be noted in the officers report, which will then be used as evidence in court.

  1. Officer Observations

An officer can also substantiate probable cause through the use of observations. If the officer sees that you smell of alcohol or are slurring. They will make note of these observations and they may use these to arrest you. Let’s consider another example.

Danielle is driving home from visiting with a friend. She has had a few glasses of wine and does not think she is intoxicated. When officers pull her over and ask if she has been drinking, she says that she prefers not to answer any questions she is not required to answer. Officers then notice that when she is speaking she is slurring her words and her eyes are red. They also smell a strong odor of red wine on her breath. This is enough for officers to suspect that she has been drinking and for her to arrested. The officers observations will be noted in the report, which will then be submitted as evidence. Furthermore, Prosecutors will not doubt subpoena the officer and have him testify as well if the matter goes to trial.

Probable cause is a big hurdle for officers to cross and one that is required before any kind of evidence is gathered or sought. There are many ways they can gather this evidence. It is important for you to be aware of the different legal defense available to you, including procedural loopholes. If evidence is not properly gathered it can be tossed it, and cannot be considered by a Jury or Judge. It may lead to a dismissal or even a reduction in charges for you. Consulting with a Los Angeles DUI lawyer is the best step you can take towards destroying Prosecution’s case against you and ensuring that you gain the best possible advantage against DUI charges against you.

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There are several ways you can be found guilty of a Los Angeles DUI. However, before any guilty verdicts are decided, there must first be an arrest, and a charge. After you have been charged and arrested, you will be given an arraignment date. You must appear in court on this day. This is mandatory, there is no excuse for you not to appear, and failure to do so could result in a bench warrant. The only way you do not have to appear is if you are represented by a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer. If your lawyer meets the guidelines, then they can appear on your behalf.

At the arraignment you will be read the charges against you, the potential consequences and you will be asked to enter a plea. You will also be given a plea bargain. A plea bargain is an offer with usually a lesser sentence if you plead guilty. This is without a trial, without being heard, or without presenting any evidence. This is not always a good idea, and should warrant careful consideration and consulting with a legal professional.

You may enter a plea at this hearing, or ask for a continuance. Continuance may be given by the Judge for up to thirty days to hire an attorney, or to request discovery. Regardless, there are two major ways a plea of guilty may be entered.

First, as stated, you can enter a plea yourself of guilty. If it is part of a plea bargain, the prosecutor will have you review your rights, check that you are waiving your rights to go to trial, and your case will be concluded. When you choose this option, your case concludes very quickly, but you may be prematurely agreeing to something that may be reduced or dismissed. It is worthwhile to discuss the facts and the evidence against you with a Los Angeles attorney in the event it may be better for you to proceed to trial.

Second, you can be found guilty by a Jury or a Judge. In this option you have the right to present you case, you will go to trial, present evidence, take testimony, and make your arguments before a Judge. If after an entire trial, the Jury or the Judge find you guilty, then you will be sentenced accordingly. In a plea bargain you will know the sentence as you will be accepting it as part of your “deal”.

If you are being charged with a DUI, and are considering entering a guilty plea, it is a good idea to consult with a professional first. There may be facts that would warrant proceeding to trial, and there may be facts that would support you accepting a plea. If you do not have legal experience or background, you may be prematurely making a decision that could harm you and your career, or education in the future.

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If you have been charged with a Los Angeles DUI, you have not yet been convicted. If you have been arrested, you have not yet been convicted. It merely means that there is probable cause for officers to believe that you are guilty of driving while under the influence.

For someone to be convicted for a DUI, the prosecutors must prove that the driver was in fact driving beyond a reasonable doubt, and that the driver was intoxicated while driving. The prosecutor must prove both elements, not just one or the other.

This does not mean that you cannot be charged with a DUI, if you weren’t driving. You may still be charged with a DUI if officers have a reason to believe that you were, at some point, driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. To better understand this concept, lets consider some examples.

Example 1: Danny is sleeping in his car. His car is parked in front of a bar, and he is asleep in the backseat with the keys in his pocket. There is a receipt in his pocket showing that he had purchased drinks throughout the night, including one about 10 minutes prior to officers finding him. These drinks were purchased from the bar he is parked in front of . His blood alcohol level is at .12, which is high. There is no one else in the car.

Example 2: David is sleeping in his car. He is asleep in the driver seat with the keys in the ignition. His car is parked on the side of the highway. There is nothing around except for the highway and the trees along the highway. David’s blood alcohol is high about .12.

Now let’s compare the two. In both examples, neither person was driving, and both were asleep in their car. Because neither person was driving, the prosecutor will have to build a case for driving using the facts surrounding the situation. Danny will have a much stronger case against a DUI than David. This is because it appears, and the facts support, an argument that Danny never drove his car after he had drank. It paints the picture that he probably went to the bar, drank too much, then made the decision to sleep in his car rather than drive in his intoxicated state. David on the other hand, cannot make that argument. He would have had to drive his car to get to where he was. His facts indicate that he drank, drove and decided to pull over and sleep. He could possibly argue that someone else was driving, and not him, but the facts do not support that contention.

Driving is not always a straightforward element to prove and allows room for argument. If you find yourself in this situation you owe it to yourself to consult with a Los Angeles DUI Attorney so that you can assess the strengths and weaknesses of your case. This could potentially lead to a dismissal.

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When you are first pulled over and arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence, you will be given a citation notice that states a day and time, as well as a courthouse. This is your arraignment date. On the arraignment date, the Court will explain the charges against you, the possible penalties and will ask you if you wish to enter a plea at that time. At your arraignment, you will also have the opportunity to speak to a public defender, ask for a continuance to hire an attorney, and also be given a plea bargain from the Prosecutor.

A lot happens at an Arraignment, as it is a very important appearance. This is a court ordered mandatory appearance. The only excuse for not appearing is if you have a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer representing you in a misdemeanor case. If you do, the attorney can appear on your behalf and you do not need to appear at all.

If you do not have a Criminal attorney representing you, then you must appear in court on the day that you have been ordered to do so. This is mandatory, you have to appear and is not optional. You cannot appear a day after you have been ordered, but you may have the option to appear before.

If you do not appear on or before the ordered date then a warrant will be issued against you. This is not a simple charge, it is it’s own charge and can result to you being arrested. If you are stopped for another violation, and a warrant is pending then they can arrest you right on the spot because of the pending warrant.

If you have a warrant issued against you, you must appear before the court to explain as to why you did not adhere to the mandatory court orders. The Judge will then make a determination as to whether the warrant will be recalled, or if they will take you into custody.

Not appearing in court for your arraignment leads to additional charges and trouble. It is a good idea to appear on the date you have been ordered to. Everyone is busy and has a lot going on, and it is often difficult to take a day off of work. However, if you hire a Los Angeles DUI lawyer, you can have the lawyer appear for you. In fact, having a lawyer appear on your behalf helps you avoid taking a day off work, but more importantly, it helps alleviate the stress and hassle of having to appear in court yourself.

It can be very scary to do it on your own, especially when you are not regularly in court and do not know what to expect. Take the proper precautions and avoid the unnecessary stress by hiring a DUI professional right away!

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Your constitutional rights are applicable to a DUI arrest, just like in any other arrest. When an officer stops you for suspicion of a DUI, they can only obtain evidence within the guidelines of the Fourth Amendment. They must have reasonable cause, and suspicion to do so. In order to illustrate the concept, let’s discuss a few examples.

Danny is driving home from a networking event. He has had a few glasses of wine throughout the evening. Officers see him pull out of the parking lot and they start following him. Danny observes all traffic signals, and is driving within the traffic guidelines. After following him for about 25 minutes, officers get tired and pull him over. When Danny asks why he has been pulled over, officers tell him that it is because they think he has been drinking.

This is not a sufficient ground for pulling Danny over. In order for officers to pull him over, they must have reasonable grounds. This includes regular traffic violations, a DUI checkpoint, or a welfare stop. In the example, none of these reasons existed. Officers cannot pull someone over simply because they believe someone was drinking. It is a violation of your fourth amendment rights, and it is an unreasonable search and seizure.

Now let’s consider a second example.

Danielle is driving home from her friend’s birthday dinner. She has had one glass of wine three hours prior. She is driving home, and makes a right turn without stopping at a red light. This is a violation of traffic laws, and officers pull her over. They explain to her that she did not stop at the red light, prior to making her right turn. They also ask if she has been drinking. Danielle replies that she has not drank any alcohol in the time prior to driving. Danielle has no signs of intoxication, as there is no alcohol in her blood stream at the time. She is not slurring, she is cooperative and she is answering all the officer’s questions. The officer asks her to step out and submit to an alcohol screening test, which she does. The result is 0.00. However, officers tell her that there is a blood alcohol level and arrest her.

Officers did not have probable cause to arrest Danielle. They had no evidence or grounds to suspect that she had been drinking or was intoxicated. Any evidence gathered by officers will be in violation of Danielle’s fourth amendment rights.

Any evidence that is gathered in violation of a person’s Fourth Amendment rights is subject to being suppressed. In order to do this, consult with an experienced Los Angeles DUI Attorney who can file the appropriate motions before the court so that the evidence cannot be admitted or considered by the court with hearing your DUI case. This is an important right that you have and it must be protected. Talking to a legal professional will give you the information you need to determine whether your rights have been violated.

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Before a person can be stopped and asked to submit to an alcohol screening test, there are many procedures an officer must follow. These procedures are crucial and put into place so that a person’s constitutional rights are not violated. An officer cannot arbitrarily stop a driver and ask him or her to take an alcohol drug test.

Before an officer can even stop someone and question them regarding alcohol or drug use, they must have probable cause. Probable cause may be achieved in several different way.

  1. Traffic violation

If a driver has violated traffic codes then the officer has grounds to ask the driver to pull over. This includes speeding, swerving, or even running a red light. If the driver has not violated any kind of traffic code, or other code, the officer has no grounds to pull them over and even begin an alcohol or drug test.

  1. Good Samaritan check

The part of an officer’s job is to make sure the general public is safe. If a person is pulled over by the side of the road, it is an officer’s job to check and make sure the driver is ok. If there is car trouble, or if there is something wrong, the officer has to check on the person. If an officer stops to find out if someone who is pulled over is ok, and they come to find that there may be reasonable suspicion to check for alcohol or drug use.

  1. DUI Stop

Oftentimes, officer will set up a DUI checkpoint. At a checkpoint, a driver must follow the cones, forcing them to be stopped and     questioned by an officer. If an officer finds reasonable suspicion to ask a driver to submit to a drug or alcohol screening test, then they have the grounds to do so. It is also important to note that a driver may approach a DUI checkpoint and opt to turn around and go a different way. Doing so can in many different situations prevent it from being used against you.

When an officer gains probable cause for a DUI stop, his or her obligations to follow procedure are not over. Before an officer can ask a person to submit to alcohol or drug testing, the officer must have reasonable suspicion. The reasonable suspicion can arise from the officer’s observations. This can be slurring, red and watery eyes, or alcohol on the breath. Or reasonable suspicion can also, more often than not, come from admissions from the driver themselves. If a driver admits to having been drinking prior to driving, the officer has all they need to proceed with an alcohol and drug screening test.

There are many procedures that an officer must follow, and they must be very careful otherwise all evidence they have gathered may be thrown out. Therefore, the actual arrest must be gone over with a fine toothed comb. A Los Angeles DUI lawyer has the knowledge and expertise to carefully review how all evidence has been gathered, so be sure to consult with a professional as soon as possible.