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Why Do You Need an Attorney Who Is Experienced in the DUI Prosecutorial Changes in Northern California?


Interviewer: What’s the implication? So, for someone that’s been arrested and they’re looking for an attorney, they want to find someone who has a very deep understanding of what’s going on and what’s changing. So, what’s going to be the cost that comes to attorneys who, maybe, aren’t looking at this? What do you think is going to happen to them and their cases in the courtroom and the people they’re defending?

Aaron: So how is that person going to be affected if they have an attorney who is not experienced in either DUI defense or, in this situation, does not understand the changes? I’ve got a really good answer for that, and that brings me to one of the courthouses, which over the last year or two has made some radical change in San Francisco.

One Pre-trial Conference, One Plea Bargain: Attorneys Who Rarely Practice in San Francisco Will Not Be Familiar With the Changes in the Process

What happens to people who hire attorneys who are not aware of changes in San Francisco? They may end up having an attorney who may have been there years ago and knew the old system. This attorney walks into, basically, a firestorm. And what’s happening is that attorney will not realize at the arraignment that they are going to get one pre-trial conference and if they do not accept the offer at that pre-trial conference, then the offer goes off the table.

Unfamiliarity With the New System May Force Attorneys to Rapidly Assemble Their Defense

Subsequently, their client gets penalized much worse and they eventually do change their plea to a guilty plea, because they didn’t accept the offer right away. So, what you need to do now in San Francisco is you need to get your discovery and have your case strenuously investigated. You are forced to make everything happen in a much quicker fashion.

I’m seeing a lot of attorneys showing up at second court appearances in San Francisco thinking, “Oh, well, if they take the offer off the table, the way it’s always been in San Francisco, you could get that back.” That’s not the case anymore. The people who hire attorneys to handle San Francisco DUI cases are getting mistreated over left and right because their attorneys do not realize how this system is working.

What the attorney has to be able to do is let them know from the beginning on a San Francisco DUI, what the consequences are, how quickly things need to happen, where the case can be fought. And they need to make a much quicker decision if they want to take their case to trial or not, because an offer will be taken off the table within usually about a month or so of the arraignment or whenever the pre-trial conference is.

Aaron Bortel

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It Is Advisable to Hire an Attorney Who Practices in the San Francisco Area to Defend Your DUI Charge

So, it’s a very important decision that someone makes when hiring a DUI or drunk-driving lawyer in the San Francisco Bay area, especially in San Francisco. They must hire someone who knows what they are doing and I recommend hiring someone who practices locally.

Contra County DUI Cases Have a Reduced Timeframe in Which to Accept Plea Bargains

I’m starting to see that happen, as well, in Contra Costa County, in Martinez. There’s a judge over in Martinez right now who is telling people, I believe, they get two pre-trial conferences. And if they do not accept the offer by then, he’s not taking an offer, they need to go to trial.

And that’s a county where you can usually get on the trial calendar and get the original offer back, but that doesn’t happen in San Francisco. The judge in Department 17 has told the other judges, from what I’ve been told by this judge, that he will not let them take any deals or take any pleas open when someone goes to trial and changes their mind and wants to take a plea on the day of trial or when the trial’s going on. He’s not allowing that.

The Evidence Against You: San Francisco Courts Do Not Allow Suppression Motions to Be Scheduled on a Day Other Than the Trial Date

The other change in San Francisco is that the court has taken away is suppression motions to be heard before a trial. It used to be, and this is probably the greatest travesty that is going on in San Francisco and hopefully it does not spread elsewhere, but I’m starting to see it occur.

You’re supposed to be able to get a suppression motion where a judge makes an independent determination, by hearing evidence and hearing testimony, whether it’s more likely than not that the officer had sufficient cause to pull you over.

In San Francisco, you used to get that and you get your motion and you’d win or lose and if you did not win, you could make the determination if you wanted to plead your client out or go to trial. And you would have months before the case would eventually go to trial. Now, the only way to get that suppression hearing is to set your motion on the same day of trial. That’s the only way you get it.

If You Lose at Your Suppression Motion, You Must Go Forward With Your Trial

And if you lose your motion, the judges have been instructed by the other judges who are in charge, that they cannot let someone plead out, they cannot take a plea open, and that someone just has to go through the trial. I believe it is a due-process violation. It’s been challenged. It will be challenged more. They’re still getting away with it, but it’s terrible.

By Aaron Bortel

Aaron Bortel

Get your questions answered - Call Us 24/7 For a FREE Case Evaluation (415) 523-7878.

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