What are my Options in a Los Angeles DUI Case?
Those arrested in Los Angeles for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) may be very worried about they the charges and the case conclude. Barring expungement, a conviction stays on a record forever so the nervousness becomes quite understandable. Defendants in a DUI case must understand “innocent until proven guilty” and “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt” both apply. Unless the prosecutor is able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant was legally intoxicated, and the defendant operated a vehicle with under the influence, a DUI conviction becomes impossible.
This doesn’t meant addressing DUI charges is simple. Persons charged with a DUI can’t deal with the complexities of the legal system without hiring a qualified attorney. An attorney reviews the specifics of the case and then advise the client on the options available to him/her when charged with a DUI.
The DUI Arrest
If you were driving erratically on the road, the police have probable cause to pull you over under suspicion of a DUI. Upon noticing other signs of intoxication, a police officer could request you undergo a breathalyzer test. Upon completetion, the results of the test show intoxication based on the blood alcohol content level. The BAC results become the prosecuting attorney’s strongest case against a defendant.
Again, as a defendant, options exist to approach the defense. The two primary options to explore are:
- Plea bargaining
- Seeking a trial
The circumstances of the case play into an attorney’s recommendation to a client regarding what options to exercise. Ultimately, it would be the defendant who makes the final decision. You should choose wisely based on counsel with an attorney.
The Plea Bargain Arrangement
A plea bargain refers to an agreement worked out between the defendant and the prosecutor. The defendant either pleads guilty or no contest to a lesser charge or to another deal worked out with the court such as a specific, agreed upon sentence.
When the evidence of guilt for a DUI appears significant, the plea bargain agreement put forth by the district attorney’s office might only be marginally better than the maximum penalty allowed by law. A defendant may feel intimidated when put into a position of looking at a terrible plea deal. With the right counsel in his/her corner, the defendant does not need to be intimidated into accepting a poor plea arrangement.
For example, the plea bargain put forth by the district attorney’s office may require an amount of jail time along with a very heavy fine. This comes in addition to several years of probation. A defense attorney could negotiate a much lower fine and no jail time. Obviously, the defendant wouldn’t want to serve time in jail if the sentence can be avoided. The right lawyer could eliminate the possibility of spending time in jail.
If the district attorney’s case is very weak, the defense counsel may suggest going to trial.
Seeking a Decision in Court
In court, the defense counsel might even prevent the case from going forward. If the defense attorney shows the police completely lacked probable cause to pull the defendant’s car over, the case could end up being outright dismissed.
A lack of probable cause may lead to the evidence being inadmissible in court. Therefore, the BAC reading would not be presented to a jury. In this possible scenario, the jury likely would come back with a not guilty verdict since the lack of evidence undermines the prosecutor’s ability to show guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Predicting how a jury will react cannot be done with absolute certainty. However, an experienced defense lawyer wouldn’t head into a jury trial are all without a reasonable expectation of a likely outcome. Previous experience with DUI jury trials allows an attorney to feel confident or not about a possible outcome.
Selecting the Best Defense Attorney
Choosing an attorney to handle a Los Angeles DUI case should be done with great care and deliberation. The best attorney is one who already handled similar cases in the past and delivered an agreeable outcome to the client. While no defendant can expert a perfect decision, he/she should expect expert counsel that has his/her best interests in mind.