Articles Posted in Sentencing

Many of our clients make the mistake of thinking that because they meet the elements of a DUI that they will be found guilty and do not need to expend the money on a Los Angeles DUI Specialist. The first mistake people make is thinking that because they were drinking and have a higher Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) they will surely be found guilty.

The second is that they plead guilty at their first Court appearance, known as the Arraignment. They are then sentenced and proceed to serve their sentence which will usually involve a fine, license suspension and jail time if it is a second or severe offense.

We advise all of our clients and potential clients that this is a bad idea without consulting with an attorney. Regardless of whether you have a high BAC, or even one over .08, you do not know the requisite elements of a DUI case.

Plea bargaining is simply a negotiation between your attorney and the prosecutor to dismiss or reduce the charges that may be pending against you. These type of negotiations can also be very effective at obtaining dismissals, reductions in penalties like eliminating jail time, in exchange for community service. For example, in a recent DUI case although the prosecutor was demanding jail time, we were able to persuade the Judge to allow our client to be placed on electronic monitoring in lieu of serving time in a jail cell.

In addition, when there are aggravating circumstances presence, the terms that the prosecutor, Judge or legislature dictates, can still be modified by the negotiation and skill of an experienced DUI lawyer to trade-off harsh consequences.

Many new clients, and those potential clients seeking advice on how our firm can assist them view DUI penalties as if they were a specific, set in stone formula, with no room for alteration or modification. People not familiar with this area of the law are very surprised to find out that every legal offense from a DUI case to a manslaughter offense are quoted in ranges, rather than specific finite penalties.

One of the biggest goals our firm fights hard to achieve for our clients, is to avoid any jail time and to receive the lowest possible sentence. However, if there is a complex criminal history, or the charge is a serious one, jail time may not always be avoided.

Even though jail time may be a part of a person’s eventual sentence, there are creative alternatives that will allow them to avoid serving the time in an actual county jail or state prison. These alternatives are granted as a result of well prepared negotiation and skill with the Judge and Prosecution by an experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney.

The option of house arrest is available to many people in lieu of serving traditional county jail or state prison. House arrest comes in many forms, including electronic surveillance, house confinement, or home detention.sEach achieve the same goal; to allow a person to serve mandatory time in their own home.

sLos Angeles DUI Attorneys are not created equally. There are vast differences in and attorneys skill, expertise, and years of experience. When you have been arrested for a drunk driving case in Los Angeles, it is essential to have the protection and representation of a highly experience DUI Attorney.

Not only do attorneys have vastly different levels of skill, there is also a wide range of legal fees being charged. In general, the least expensive lawyers, typically have the least experience. When your freedom is on the line, going for representation by an attorney with little experience is never a good idea.s

It is attorneys experience that makes the big differencesbetween and an excellent result and a so so result.sThat being said, paying a very high attorneys fee does not guarantee a dismissal either.sCarefully screening an attorney, and asking important questions, allows a potential client to develop a fuller understanding of the attorneys real level of experience in a courtroom, handling cases similar to yours.

There is a well-known expression that perception is reality… what does that mean?sThis phrase as many different applications and contexts. The scope of this blog is to try and explain that being arrested for a driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs carries with it many negative connotations. For example, the term drunk driving gives the impression that the person arrested was in fact drunk. In fact, the law does not require a driver to be drunk, but merely to be driving a motor vehicle with a .08% of alcohol in their bloodstream.

At a trial of a DUI case, prosecutors and even judges present police officers, and their statements as impartial, and unbiased parties. In fact, police officers have an agenda, and that is to build a case against a driver to support their impression that they have been violating the law by driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. They are not neutral, and their observations are colored by their own perception, and by their own need to support their opinion that this driver has broke the law.

Clients of our lawfirm of DUI defense attorneys, frequently our surprise when we are reviewing the air police reports of their arrest, of how negatively they are portraying by their arresting officers.

Knowing when to accept a plea bargain is a very critical decision which requires analyzing objectively the prosecutors case, including any and all evidence they have, and any witnesses.

There are three possible outcomes of a DUI prosecution. The rarest is after the prosecutor in a courtroom finds an obvious error or other critical weakness in their case, theydecide to dismiss all charges. Keep in mind that prior to filing charges, a prosecutor office reviewed the entire contents of the police report and determined that there was sufficient evidence in their opinion to convict the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt.

The second is a more common scenario, where based on the merits of the case, and after a careful evaluation of both positive and negative evidence, the defense lawyer and prosecutor agree upon a reduced charge or terms of a case settlement. This process is called plea-bargaining.

One of the most significant consequences that a DUI conviction may have on your life is that it may change your immigration status. When it comes to Immigration law, the Immigration Judge has a great amount of discretion on his decision as it is not objectively outlined in the Naturalization and Immigration Act.

While many drug offenses and more serious criminal offenses will most likely lead to deportation or revocation of your status, a DUI is much more subjective. The Judge will decide based on several factors if the DUI will prevent you from obtaining or maintaining your status. He or she will often consider your criminal record, how long you have been in the United States, your family situation, job history as well as other aspects of your life.

If you only have one DUI on your record and nothing else, chances are it won’t have much of an effect on your Immigration Status. However, if you are on your third DUI and were on probation, the Judge will seriously consider deportation or terminating your status as either a citizen or Legal Permanent Resident.

There is a very crucial difference between a DUI arrest and a conviction, one that leads to very different consequences.

A DUI arrest is an allegation made by officers that they have facts supporting a guilty finding for driving under the influence. An arrest doesn’t mean that you have been found guilty, it simply means that officers feel that you were driving under the influence and it still remains to be proven. The law will presume you are innocent until you are proven guilty. If you are found guilty in a court of law by either an entered plea, a judge or jury trial, then you will be convicted of a DUI. Until that point, there is no conviction but merely an arrest.

The consequences also have stark differences. With a DUI arrest there is nothing on your record and you are not required to disclose this information to any institution or employer that asks about your criminal record. Remember, a DUI arrest is not on your record because you have not been found guilty of the alleged DUI.

When a person is charged with a Los Angeles DUI case they are required by state law to be placed on a minimum of 3 to 5 years of Summary Probation along with a fine to be paid and a rehabilitation program to be completed. In some cases jail time will also be required.

There are two types of probation, informal and formal. Informal probation is generally the case for first offense misdemeanor DUI charges. It is unsupervised whereas formal probation requires the supervision of a deputy probation officer and is usually part of a sentence in more extreme felony charges of DUI.

There are two type of probation violations: external and internal. An internal probation violation results when a person fails to complete the required rehabilitation classes or pay the required fine. An external violation results when a similar crime is committed within the probationary period.s

In California the courts tend to prefer drug treatment over a jail sentence for those charged with drug offenses. The hope of the court is to rehabilitate the offender rather than punish them by a sentence which could increase the probability of a second offense. Depending on the specific facts of your case an experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney will be able to tell you if you qualify for one of a few alternative sentences.

Many drug offenders qualify for Proposition 36. Proposition 36, California’s Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act, allows those that have simple drug possession charges and are first or second time offenders to complete a substance abuse program instead of serving jail time. The programs are quite extensive and may include up to one year of education classes, therapy, inpatient or outpatient care and up to six months of aftercare.

Another alternative that may be available is referred to as a Deferred Entry of Judgment (DEJ).sWhen granted a DEJ, the defendant pleads guilty, but is not convicted. The case is put on hold for 18 months and set aside. The defendant must then complete six months of a substance abuse program as well as avoid any additional convictions or charges. After 18 months are over, and the six months of a substance abuse program have successfully been completed, the charge is wiped clean.s