No one is ever prepared for DUI charges. Once you have been charged and arrested, a very confusing criminal process sets forth, especially to someone experiencing the first DUI arrest. The courtroom process is a complex arena with several players and legal requirements that one cannot comprehend all by him or herself. San Diego DUI Attorney offers excellent legal services to anyone facing DUI charges in San Ignacio, CA.
California DUI Arraignment Process
DUI arraignment is the first stage of the California DUI criminal court proceeding. The prosecutor will give you a first “offer,” which is the sentence that your prosecutor will recommend and agree to a guilty plea.
This stage of the court procedure gives you the first opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty to the charges at hand. A guilty plea will sentence you to the penalties that apply for your DUI offense, except fulfilling the terms provided for your probation. Your DUI case will then close after the sentencing.
If you plead not guilty, your San Ignacio DUI attorney will have to review and challenge the evidence provided by the prosecutor. The attorney will review the police report and the results that have been acquired from the chemical testing.
Although negotiation can be considered during the arraignment, your attorney will be more actively engaged during the pre-trial phase of the DUI process.
California DUI Bail Hearing
Once you have pleaded not guilty to your DUI charges, the judge might ask you to request a bail that the prosecutor might present to you. In most cases, DUI defendants are released on their own recognizance while they have a pending case. This means that they are released without any bail if they promise to the court that they will return for their hearing. However, such situations are rare, and the judge usually imposes a bail on DUI or cases related to DUI.
Felony DUI or hit and run cases are usually considered in posting bail for an offender to be released. The bail on a felony DUI might amount at $100,000 or more. In such a situation, the person will contact a bail bond agent who will post the bond on his or her behalf. This is considered in exchange for payment that ranges between 8-10% of the required amount. If a defendant cannot post the bail, he or she will have to appear to court for the arraignment while in police custody.
Even if the defendant has posted bail and earns freedom, the judge might also impose some conditions upon release. These conditions include attendance of Alcohol Anonymous meetings, enrolling in an alcohol education program, installing an ignition interlock device, or wearing an alcohol monitoring device.
Your San Ignacio DUI attorney should be allowed to address the conditions of your release and the proposed bail amount during the arraignment. Once the amount of your bail and conditions have been agreed on, your release will be appropriate.
California Pre-Trial Process
Although prosecutors claim that their best offer is given during the arraignment, this is an early incentive to make you accept responsibility for the DUI convictions. However, this is not the case since there is still a long way to go during the pre-trial phase that can help win your case. The stage usually lasts for weeks to months, depending on the kind of preparation and steps that your DUI attorney will take.
At this stage, your San Ignacio DUI attorney will meticulously investigate your lawsuits to check for areas that might help in winning your case. The more the issues and evidence that favors you, the higher are the chances of having the court drop your case. The most effective way to handle this would be through a DUI pre-trial motion or a plea bargain.
In a DUI pre-trial, your attorney might decide to run a probable cause hearing, a motion to suppress the hearing, or a pitchess hearing. Let’s have a closer look at these three options.
Motion to Suppress the Probable Cause Hearing
If the prosecutor lacks sufficient evidence obtained from your stopping and DUI investigation, there is a need to suppress such evidence. Assuming that there is an existence of the ground of your stoppage, the prosecutor must justify why the investigation took place. Again, if the prosecutor cannot explain and articulate the facts that warrant your detaining beyond a temporary stop, then your attorney should bring forth a motion to suppress the evidence of your brief stoppage.
Also, if there exists probable cause for your detaining and a field investigation was conducted such as field sobriety test and brief questioning, there must be a more considerable amount of evidence that warrants your arrest for intoxication. In that case, an authority must be present to arrest you and confirm whether the offense was committed within the presence of an officer. If such cause is not present, the evidence obtained from the arrest, which consists of your blood alcohol test and refusal to do the test, can be suppressed.
Generally, your prosecutor should have a considerable amount of evidence for your stoppage, detention, and arrest. If there is an insufficient quantum of evidence at any of these stages, then your attorney is in a good position of suppressing the evidence presented against you.
Motion to Suppress Evidence
This is a legal proceeding designed to challenge the evidence on the ground related to your DUI arrest and conviction. It is entirely legitimate to pursue such a process since it is provided under the California Penal Code section 1538.5. The defense attorney usually initiates the motion to suppress the evidence by filing formal papers with the court.
The prosecutor and your San Ignacio DUI attorney will then submit the arguments in an official document referred to as a brief. If there were an arrest associated with the case, the prosecutor would file the first brief, which justifies every step that the police officer took. The motion is referred to as a Notice Motion to Suppress Evidence. It allows the court to set a date that limits the state to respond in objection.
In a suppression motion, the DUI attorney will challenge the results of your chemical test that was administered to determine your BAC and question whether there was a probable cause for your DUI stoppage or arrest. This falls under the US amendment, which prohibits illegal search and seizure.
In a motion to suppress whether there was a probable cause for your traffic stop, your DUI attorney will try to focus on whether there was a reasonable belief of the police officer that you committed a crime. If the motion turns out to be successful, a statement will be obtained to prove that your arrest was unlawful or the search needs to be suppressed. A DUI offender can establish a probable cause for your traffic stoppage.
However, the violation should be done within the presence of a police officer to make it valid. A police officer cannot merely stop a driver, check his or her driver’s license and registration then proceed to arrest the driver for DUI. Also, it is unlawful to stop a vehicle with the anticipation of having violated a vehicle code or involved in contraband or drug violation without an actual cause presenting itself before the stoppage.
In a motion to suppress chemical tests, the point of interest would disapprove the chemical test administration to have the evidence suppressed. If the proposal turns out to be successful, the evidence gained as a result of the chemical testing, such as observation of signs and symptoms of intoxication, is suppressed.
Pitchess motion is a legal motion filed to determine whether a law officer has a previous accusation of indiscipline or misconduct. In this kind of action, the defense will ask for access to the personal records of the officer, which might show the history of misconduct. Some of the instances that best suit a pitchess motion include use of excessive force, racial profiling, lying in the report, among other wrongdoings. These actions would be relevant in determining whether you are guilty or innocent.
Typically, the defense will be requesting the personal files of the officer to examine whether there are prior accusations of indiscipline. Such records are private, and law enforcement agencies will typically fight to the request of the records.
When your DUI attorney is filing a pitchess motion, he or she must show that there is a good cause towards the release of the police officer’s records. In most cases, this is demonstrated in a sworn declaration that the defendant describes an instance of misconduct from the police officer. Also, your attorney should prove that the records will be helpful to your defense. In that case, the judge will be cautious of a fishing expedition and will have no choice but check on the officer’s history in committing any kind of misconduct.
If the judge finds out that there is sufficient cause to proceed with the motion, an in camera review of the personal records of the officer will be conducted in the judge’s chamber. The officer might be summoned to the chambers. However, a representative from the county usually appears on behalf of the officer. If the judge finds relevant material that shows instances of misconduct, they will be released to your attorney.
When the material shows egregious or offensive misconduct, the prosecution might decide to dismiss the charges.
The decision to consider a plea bargain should be agreed upon after a thorough consultation with your San Ignacio DUI attorney. Some of the factors that determine whether to go for a plea bargain include:
The strength of the case of your prosecutor
Your prior conviction
Your tolerance for risks
Plea bargain involves the reduction of a sentence to a lesser charge that attracts a minor penalty. Ideally, you will be pleading guilty to a lesser charge to your allegations. The main benefit of a plea bargain is that you will know your sentence in advance.
Based on the charges, the potential benefits that result from a reduction of your allegations include:
No mandatory suspension of your driver’s license
No mandatory DUI schools
Little or no jail time
Less stigma due to your DUI conviction
Potential of not having a priorable offense
Less negative impact on your car insurance
Once you have reduced your DUI charges to a lesser charge, the court will reduce your case to lesser charges that are discussed below.
The first DUI charge reduction that the court might consider is the wet reckless. In this sort of conviction, the court will assume that alcohol was involved in your offense. The court might decide to convict you for some drugs, although this is usually rare. The involvement of alcohol in the conviction explains the “wet” that in the phrase wet reckless.
Several advantages come with a wet reckless conviction. These include less jail time, lower fines, and a possible no mandatory court-ordered suspension of your driver’s license.
Please note, wet reckless is a priorable offense meaning that one can be convicted for DUI within the lookback period of the state’s DUI. In such a case, the offender will be prosecuted with a repeat DUI offense.
This is a simple plea bargain that does not mention alcohol or drugs as in the case of wet reckless. The primary benefit of dry reckless vs DUI plea bargain is that it does not count as a prior DUI on your records and may not have any effect on your insurance premium.
However, the primary disadvantage of dry reckless is that it stands as a misdemeanor offense and may stand as a point in your DMV driving record. This puts you at risk of acquiring many points that might trigger the suspension of your driver’s license.
Exhibition of Speed
Exhibition of speed is also referred to as speed ex. It is a less common charge reduction that is common in DUI cases. Your San Ignacio DUI attorney should consider this kind of plea bargain if the evidence presented by the prosecutor is not reliable.
Exhibition of speed is still considered as a misdemeanor and might attract penalties such as possible jail time, fines, and probation. It also puts a defendant at risk of having some points added in his or her driving records. Fortunately, most speed ex plea bargains have no jail time, and the probation and fines are possibly lower than DUI. Therefore, it is usually a desirable outcome for most DUI defendants.
Drunk in Public
This is another uncommon plea bargain option. It is usually considered when a defendant was typically drunk, but it is not evident whether he or she was driving. For instance, it might be considered when a driver was found passed out in a parked car.
This kind of plea bargain is usually a misdemeanor and might carry penalties such as jail time and small fines. However, since it is not related to driving, it might not lead to negligent operator points on the records of the defendant's DMV records.
Drinking Alcohol in a Vehicle
In some cases, a DUI defendant might plea bargain his or her charges to the consumption of alcoholic beverages in a vehicle. This kind of law makes it a crime to consume alcohol in a car that is on a public street.
Consuming alcohol in a vehicle is considered when the prosecutor has a weak case. For instance, if the DUI breath or blood test shows a BAC that is slightly higher than the legal limit, this kind of plea bargain might be considered. The chemical test results suggest that there is reasonable doubt for your DUI, which creates a situation where the prosecutor or defense does not want a negative outcome of your trial.
Consuming alcohol in a vehicle is an infraction and usually attracts a non-criminal fine. Therefore, it does not add any points to your driver’s DMV records.
A traffic infraction is also referred to as moving violations. Prosecutors offer traffic infraction as a last resort for DUI plea bargains. This works when there is a fair chance that DUI charges would not bear any fruits. Moving violation is punishable by a small fine, which is quite better compared with a typical DUI charge.
Prosecutors might offer a plea deal under this option in two infractions. These are referred to as a “pair of movers.” They consist of one moving offense that can be written off through attendance to a traffic school. The other one puts the defendant at risk of having DMV points on the driver’s records.
Some of the traffic infractions that might be considered in a charge reduction plea include a situation where the prosecutor believes that there was a violation of police procedure and when chemical test results were invalidated.
Find a San Diego DUI Attorney Near Me
As illustrated earlier, a DUI court process involves a lot of complicated aspects. Therefore, it is advisable to seek the help of a professional DUI attorney. San Diego DUI Attorney has established the reputation of offering credible services to clients charged with a DUI. For those living within San Ignacio, CA, reach us today at 619-535-7150 for a free consultation.