In California, a fourth DUI arrest in any 10-year period will be charged as a felony. When the stakes are high, it is incredibly important to have a Sacramento felony DUI defense attorney on your side with the experience and hands-on approach you can trust.
In felony DUI cases and drunk driving accidents, charges are less likely to be reduced through negotiation. Having an experienced trial lawyer on your side is vital to give you a fighting chance to avoid incarceration.
I will fight for you at the DMV hearing, giving you an opportunity to subpoena and cross-examine the arresting officer without the prosecution's interference. I can identify potential holes in the state's case, which may allow you or your loved one to stay out of jail or get minimal county time instead of a prison sentence.Aggravated DUI Charges
California law provides for enhancements to DUI charges when blood alcohol content (BAC) registers significantly higher than the maximum. If your BAC registered above a .15 or .20, the penalties will be more substantial. The same is true if you refused to participate in a breath or field sobriety test, if there was a minor passenger in the car during your arrest or if you were charged with drunk driving under the age of 21.Arraignment and Charges
If you are facing a felony DUI, you will be required to appear in court at the arraignment. At this time the judge will state the pending charges. It is critical to have a defense attorney at this stage to advise you of what to say and do in response to the judge's declarations. District Attorney's offices often do not submit a "complaint" - the document that officially files charges - at this point in the process. This delay is usually because blood alcohol test results are not yet available. It is important to understand, however, that this does not mean that charges will not be filed. I have known of people who went to the arraignment without a defense attorney and left thinking that charges were not going to be filed, only to find out later that a warrant has been issued for their arrest.
A pre-hearing conference is held after charges are filed. This is an excellent opportunity for an experienced defense attorney to negotiate on your behalf with the goal of protecting your rights, limiting penalties, and even getting charges dismissed.Trial
If negotiations at the pre-hearing conference do not result in a sufficient reduction of charges or an outright dismissal, the next step is to schedule a trial date. I make sure my clients understand the possible outcomes of a trial and use my 20 years of experience to defend their rights in these serious cases.DMV Hearing
All drunk driving cases must go through two separate legal procedures. The steps described above are part of the criminal court system that is recognizable from movies and television. This involves courtrooms, judges, and attorneys. A separate system, administered by the Department of Motor Vehicles, holds Administrative Per Se hearings on the question of whether the defendant will lose his or her driver’s license. The standard that triggers a DMV hearing is when an accused person has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. If the DMV hearing officer (a DMV staff member who runs the hearing and issues the ruling) determines that a driver’s BAC was at or above the legal limit then a driver’s license suspension will be imposed. It is important to keep in mind that this DMV hearing is a separate process from the court proceedings and that the outcome of the DMV hearing has no impact on criminal charges brought by the District Attorney’s Office. A qualified felony DUI defense lawyer will be able to represent you in both the court proceedings and the DMV hearing.Experience Matters
I will work tirelessly to obtain a favorable outcome and to provide you with the best chance of minimizing the negative consequences of a felony charge. As a former major crimes prosecutor, I can even defend you against charges as serious as vehicular manslaughter in a fatal drunk driving accident or hit-and-run. For a free consultation regarding your charges, contact me online or call me at 916-442-1200.