What Criteria Do You Consider In Taking A DUI Case To Trial?
Most DUI cases in the San Francisco Bay Area result in plea deals. In fact, less than two percent of DUI cases actually go to a jury trial, and a very small percentage of cases get dismissed. In every case, our first mission is to determine whether or not we can get the case dismissed. If we cannot, then it will be up to the client to decide whether or not they want to take the case to a jury trial. In a jury trial, all 12 jurors would have to be in agreement that the client is guilty. The prosecutor must prove the elements of the DUI charges beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a very high burden of proof. It should be noted that going to trial is not only expensive, but could result in a more severe sentence than the one that would likely be offered as a plea deal.
If the case cannot be dismissed and the client chooses not to go to trial, then we will negotiate with the district attorney. This involves discussing the strengths in our case and the weaknesses in their case. The best DUI lawyers in the Bay Area investigate DUI cases from the very beginning, which means gathering every last bit of information from the client regarding their recollection of the event. It also means identifying various sources of evidence, such as witnesses, surveillance video footage from nearby stores, and police body cam or dash cam footage.
Once we obtain the police report, we determine what machines were used to test the client’s breath, blood, or urine, and request calibration and maintenance records for those machines. We obtain accuracy checks, station logs, and scientific records from all machines involved. This information could reveal possible sources of contamination resulting in a false positive. Video footage—whether from a nearby store or from the police officer’s dash or body cam—could reveal that our client’s rights were violated or a procedure was conducted improperly. The more thorough the investigation, the more likely it is that negotiation will produce a favorable result.
For immigration purposes, getting a DUI charge reduced to a reckless driving charge can be incredibly useful. Over the course of my career, countless immigration attorneys have confirmed this. In most cases, the penalties associated with a wet reckless charge are less than those associated with a DUI charge. For example, rather than a three-year probation sentence, 18-month probation sentences are common, and the fine is usually about one thousand dollars less than it is for a DUI charge. As opposed to a maximum penalty of six months in jail, the maximum penalty for a wet reckless charge is 90 days in jail.
In Marin County, the district attorney draws a pretty hard line at alcohol concentrations over 0.10; any concentration level above this almost always disqualifies an offender from having their sentence reduced to a wet reckless driving charge. It takes an experienced attorney to get a DUI charge reduced to a wet reckless driving charge, but it is possible. I once handled a case wherein my client had an alcohol concentration level of 0.09, and after a great deal of negotiating and many hours’ worth of hard work, I was able to present the district attorney with some information that convinced them to dismiss the case. This was a fantastic outcome for my client, who had a very bright future.
In every case, I ensure that the district attorney knows who my client is and has an idea of their character. For this reason, I sometimes ask clients to provide their resume and letters from employers, friends, clergy, or anyone else who knows them and can speak to their positive characteristics and motivation for self-improvement.
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