One of the first thoughts that run through an arrestee's mind after landing in jail is quite simply "how fast can I get out?" Usually, the fastest way out is to post bail: your promise, secured by money, that you will appear at the upcoming court dates.
The Constitution guarantees a person the right to jail in almost all circumstances, and a person's bail is often set by a schedule, a set of guidelines adopted by the government that establish uniform guidelines correlating each crime to a dollar amount of bail. We have bail schedules to try to ensure the defendants who commit the same crime are held on the same bail throughout the state. But both the prosecution and the defense can request deviations from bail. When deviating, the court often looks to these factors:
If you are in custody, and want to speak to a criminal defense attorney, give Devina a call.
The exceptions her in California being Capital (a) crimes when the facts are evident or the presumption great, (b) Felony offenses involving acts of violence on another person, or felony sexual assault offenses on another person, when the facts are evident or the presumption great and the court finds based upon clear and convincing evidence that there is a substantial likelihood the person's release would result in great bodily harm to others; or (c) Felony offenses when the facts are evident or the presumption great and the court finds based on clear and convincing evidence that the person has threatened another with great bodily harm and that there is a substantial likelihood that the person would carry out the threat if released. The purpose of the exception to the right to bail for capital defendants is to protect the public from those who commit intensely serious crimes.
We are supposed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in America, right? Why then, for so long, were those defendants whose convictions had been overturned, deprived of their ability to get a refund on the fines and fees paid in the underlying case? Who knows. But thankfully, that is no longer the case.
While our Supreme Court often divided, it ruled in a 7-1 decision that Colorado, one of the few states that frequently held on to money taken from defendants in such situations, had to be refunded. "After a conviction has been reversed, unless and until the defendant should be retried, he must be presumed innocent of that charge," Justice Ginsberg said. "Colorado may not presume a person, adjudged guilty of no crime, nonetheless guilty enough for monetary extractions."
I have repeatedly posted warning here against drinking and driving, but I realized the other day that I have only given my readers a scant amount of information that can help them decrease their alcohol consumption. So, as we are in the midst of the “drinking season”—a time of the year when going out with friends for a drink or two (or three of four,) always seems like a more inviting idea than during the rest of the year, or maybe dealing with the stress of force family interaction causes us to act out a bit—I thought I would share a post aimed at helping us all manage to get through the holidays without alcohol. Here are a few suggestions:
I realize that I may be asking too much of you to have an entirely sober holiday season, so here are a few more tips to keep you safe if you decide to go the less-than-sober route.
Be safe out there!
Want to drink at home? Look no further than this site. Or this one. Or this one. And for you Pinterest fans, I give you this.
Fall and winter have always been one of my favorite times of the year (mainly because this time of year includes not only my birthday, but also Thanksgiving and Christmas!) It’s the time we see beloved family and friends, gorge on food we otherwise couldn’t justify, have a perfectly good excuse to curl up on the couch for some serious binge-watching, and celebrate old traditions. For some, these traditions include office gift exchanges, holiday parties, ugly sweater parties, building snowmen, sledding, and decorating the tree. Sadly, there’s another tradition that few like to think about: the documented rise in DUIs.
We all know the chances of getting into a collision go up if there are more cars on the road and when the weather is bad, when you factor in an increased number of DUI drivers the chances of getting in an accident go off the charts. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), notes that, on an average, day 36 fatalities occur per day in the United States in which an alcohol-impaired driver is involved. However, during the holiday season that average gives to 45 fatalities per day, and over New Year’s weekend, that number jumps even higher to soared to 54 per day!No surprise, the highest incidences of DUI arrests occur late November through very early January, and some bartenders refer to the Wednesday before Thanksgiving as “Black Wednesday” as that is their busiest night of the year.
So please be careful out there this time of year. And while I always welcome the business, and appreciate that my clients have chosen me to help them defend against a DUI, it always breaks my heart to see a client walk through the door because someone was injured or killed as a result of their drinking and driving.
In case you’re curious, the Fourth of July is considered the deadliest day of the year.
Limiting the involvement of state and local law enforcement agencies in federal immigration enforcement.
The fact that California is activity trying to resist the Trump administrations’ immigration policies is news to no one. Here’s what you need to know about California’s recent response to Federal Immigration policy.
Existing federal law states that any authorized immigration officer can issue what’s called an “Immigration Detainer-Notice of Action” to any other federal, state, or local law enforcement agency. This detainer advises these other law enforcement agencies that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is seeking to take an alien presently in the custody of thatagency, into the custody of the DHS for the purpose of arresting and deporting the alien.In short, it is a request that such that the other agency advise the DHS, prior to release of the alien, so that the DHS can arrange to pick up the alien. This is commonly referred to as an “immigration hold.” The other law enforcement agency is then supposed to maintain custody of the alien for a period not to exceed 48 hours.
However, there have been fears that Trump’s Executive Orders and other related Department of Homeland Security memorandums amount to essentially an “outline [for] a mass deportation strategy that will encompass a broad category of immigrants.” The proponents of this bill back up these statements by citing statistics indicating that deportations have increased 40% and approximately 10,800 of these deportations were of aliens whose only criminality was either entering or staying in the county in violation of law.
In response, California passed SB 54. This change in the law now makes it so no California law enforcement agency can use agency or department money or personnel to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect, or arrest persons for immigration enforcement purposes. This includes prohibitions on usingagency or department money or personnel to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect, or arrest persons for immigration enforcement purposes. This includes prohibitions on (1) inquiring into an person's immigration status, (2) detaining a person on the basis of an immigration hold request, (3) providing non-public information regarding a person's release date unless such information release is in response to a notification request that where the person meets specified criteria regarding their current or past offenses, (4) providing non-public personal information about a person, including, but not limited to, the individual's home address or work address; (5) making or intentionally participating in arrests based on civil immigration warrants, or (6) assisting immigration authorities in the specified activities allowed under federal immigration law or performing the functions of an immigration officer.
Perhaps equally as important, California Law Enforcement Agencies cannot transfer a person to immigration authorities unless the transfer has previously been authorized by a judicial warrant or judicial probable cause determination, or if the individual meets specified criteria regarding their past offenses.
Law enforcement, however, can still (1) investigative and enforce violations of federal law for illegal reentry after removal following conviction of an aggravated felony, (2) respond to a request from federal immigration authorities for information about a person's criminal history, (3) participating in a joint law enforcement task force, if the primary purpose of the task force is not immigration enforcement, or (4), or give immigration authorities access to interview an individual in law enforcement custody.
Other law also states that notwithstanding any other provision of law, a Federal, State, or local government entity or official may not in any way restrict a government entity or official from sending or receiving Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.
Federal law also allows the Secretary of Homeland Security to enter into agreements that delegate immigration powers to local police, with the negotiated agreements between ICE and the local police being documented in some form of memorandum of agreement (MOA).
excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays
Senator De Leon, as noted in the Assembly Floor Analysis of SB 54 dated September 15, 2017.
In this particular situation, responses are not required, but permitted, provided they do not violate any local law or policy.
As we have discussed here before, both the DMV and the Court system have the ability to suspend your driver's license after a DUI. There are, however, few circumstances wherein the Court can order the DMV to re-issue someone’s license. This most frequently happens when the DUI charges are dismissed by the District Attorney's Office or an acquittal is obtained after a trial, after which a "Dismissal hearing" is held to refute the DMV's previously obtained evidence against the driver. The other way this can happen is through the use of a “Helmandollar” Plea. In the original Helmandollar case, the driver beat the DUI charges in court after losing the DMV hearing.
There are two rather large challenges in being able to enter a Hellmandollar plea, however. Perhaps most difficult is getting the prosecutor to agree to dismiss the DUI charges and admit there is some deficiency in the evidence that is great enough to equate to actual innocence of the driver. Then, of course, the judge must agree to accept such a plea. Once that happens the driver's license suspension and DMV conviction are set aside under Vehicle Code 13353.2 which states, “If a person is acquitted of criminal charges relating to a determination of facts under [the administrative per se law]…the department shall immediately reinstate the person’s privilege to operate a motor vehicle.” (However, this language does not apply to a suspension based on a driver's refusal to take a chemical test.)
While these pleas are certainly hard to get, if you are a person who cannot stand to lose their driver's license an experienced DUI attorney can help you explore this option.
Prior the passage of Senate Bill 1391, the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016, which was enacted by Proposition 57, allowed the district attorney to make a motion try a minor in the adult criminal court (1) if the minor is alleged to have committed a felony when he or she was 16 years of age or older, or (2) in a case in which a serious offense is alleged to have been committed by a minor when he or she was 14 or 15 years of age. This bill would repealed the authority of a district attorney to attempt to try the minor as an adult in the latter of these two cases, unless the minor was not apprehended prior to minor’s 18thbirthday.
In the 1960s, the Arnold-Kennick Juvenile Court Act established 16 as the minimum age for which a minor could be transferred from juvenile court to adult criminal court. Over 30 years later, the law changed, lowering the age at which a minor could be transferred to adult criminal court from 16 to 14 years of age, in large part due to concerns of increasing crimes of violence being committed by teens. In 2000, once again citing public safety concerns, legislators passed Proposition 21, increasing sentences for specified gang-related crimes, authorizing a prosecutor to file charges against a juvenile offender directly in criminal court for specified felonies, prohibiting the sealing of juvenile records involving Welfare and Institutions Code section 707(b) offenses, and designating additional crimes as violent and serious felonies.
However, over the last several years there have been a series of U.S. Supreme Court casesrecognizing the inherent difference between juveniles and adults for purposes of sentencing. These cases have relied on research on brain and adolescent development which suggests that juveniles have diminished culpability and greater prospects for reform. The Supreme Court held that they have a “ ‘lack of maturity and an underdeveloped sense of responsibility,’ ” leading to recklessness, impulsivity, and heedless risk-taking,. Further, they “are more vulnerable . . . to negative influences and outside pressures,” including from their family and peers; they have limited “contro[l] over their own environment” and lack the ability to extricate themselves from horrific, crime-producing settings.
So how does the system work in these cases? After the DA’s office makes the decision that they feel the minor should be tried as an adult, the DA is required to make a motion to have the case moved from juvenile court system to the adult criminal justice system. From there, it is ultimately the court’s (the judge’s) decision whether or not to allow the transfer. In reaching that decision, the judge is required to consider certain factors.
First, the degree of criminal sophistication exhibited by the minor. This factor tends to hinge on the minor’s age. maturity, intellectual capacity, physical, mental and emotional health at the time he committed the crime, the minor’s impetuosity or failure to appreciate the consequences of his actions, the effects of the minor’s family environment, and whether there had been any sort of childhood trauma. Second, the circumstances and gravity of the offense. Third, whether the minor can be rehabilitated prior to the minor’s 18thbirthday, and previous attempts by the juvenile court to rehabilitate the minor. And fourth, the minor’s prior criminal history.
While the passage of the bill was widely celebrated throughout the state, it was not without it’s critics who that some crime are so horrific that this change in the law does not respect victims and coddles teens who are the types of offenders who will never be reformed.
The main cases include: Roper v. Simmons (2005) 543 U.S. 551 [125 S.Ct. 1138, 161 L.Ed. 2d]; Graham v. Florida (2010) 560 U.S. 48 [130 S.Ct. 2011, 176 L.Ed. 825]; J.D.B. v. North Carolina (2011) 564 U.S. 261 [131 S. Ct. 2394, 180 L.Ed. 310 ]; Miller v. Alabama (2012) 567 U.S. 460 [132 S.Ct. 2455, 183 L.Ed. 2d 407].)
For an opposing position see this 2015 Law Review article.
As you would expect, suffering a DUI conviction results in a myriad of punishments. Despite having to pay fines and fees in the neighborhood of $2,000-2,500 and do some mandatory jail time, for those of us here in CA who are dependent on our cars to get around, carry out our daily tasks, get to work, go to medical or dental appointments, and visit family, perhaps the harshest penalty is the mandatory suspension of our driver’s license. For a driver who suffers a standard first DUI, the DMV will suspend his or her driver’s license for 4 months. A standard second offense within 10 years will cause that same driver to lose his or her license for two years, and that driver will be without a license for 3 years for a third offense. These penalties get harsher if the driver refused to take a breath or blood test after the arrest or was under 21 at the time of arrest.
However, California allows a person who has been convicted of a DUI to applyfor a restricted license, allowing them to drive (1) to and from their worksite, and driving they need to do for work, (2) a dependent child to school, (3) to necessary medical appointments, and (4) to any alcohol-education or self-help classes. A driver (in most DUIs) is allowed to apply for a restricted license after 30 days if convicted of a first offense DUI, 90 days if convicted of a second offense DUI, or 180 days if convicted of a third offense DUI. As part of the application the driver must also submit proof of enrollment in an appropriate Driving and Driving Education Program (DDP), and submit proof of current financial responsibility (an SR-22 form.) …And, of course, the DMV will charge a license re-issuance fee of $125.
Once both the DMV-ordered and court-order suspension period has elapsed, a driver is eligible to apply for their full driving privilege back. To have a full license reinstated, the driver will need to show proof ofcompletion of the DDP class and, once again, pay a $125 reissuance fee.
As the application for both of these licenses requires a driver to personally appear at a DMV office, and DMV waiting times have become exceedingly long, it is strongly suggested that drivers schedule their appointments as early on in the process as possible.
Obtaining a restricted license if a complicated legal process. Obtaining an experienced attorney to guide you and ensure all your documentation is in order will ensure your driving privileges are reinstated as quickly as possible after a DUI conviction.
 The length of the DDP program is dependent on the facts of the case. One common factor that determines the length of the program is the level of your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). In California, these programs typically run for 3, 6, or 9 months. A second or third offense will require a driver to complete an 18-month class.
 You can obtain an SR-22 from your current insurance carrier (if they do not cancel on you) or from a different insurance company (if you were dropped). Obtaining an SR-22 can be costly as the DUI conviction is strong evidence to the insurance carrier that you are a high-risk driver. Generally, you must maintain an SR-22 on file with the DMV for about 3 years, however, it can vary case by case.
So you got a DUI and now need to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your car. Here's everything you need to know:
On which cars do I need to install an IID?
An IID needs to be installed on any car you drive or have registered to you. If
a family member often drives a car registered to you, it may be advisable to go down to the DMV and have the title transferred to that family member so that your loved ones do not need to bear the burden of having to use an IID as well. When the transfer is interfamily, the transfer fees can be low.
How do I find an IID provider?
These programs are recognized by the state:
How much is this going to cost?
Costs vary by provider. That said, installation costs usually run between $75 and $100+, (the cost can be affected by the type of car you drive; as you could expect, it's a lot easier to add technology to some cars than it is to others,) and then there are monthly monitoring fees which run anywhere from $50-100 per month. Overall, the costs usually come down to about $3-4 a day.
How long do I need to have the IID in the car?
Usually the length of the IID requirement is govern by the court orders, however, as of 2019, an IID will need to be installed in your vehicle for at least 6 months after a 1st offense DUI, 1 year after a 2nd offense, and 2 years after a 3rd offense. Keep in mind, however, that having an IID installed in your car may qualify you to get a restricted license from the DMV sooner.
How embarrassing! Ways to disguise that IID:
There are several products on the marker to help you disguise the IID installed in your car. Check out these sites:
Yes. If you want to read the law, see the text here.
Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a landmark bill (which will go into effect in October 2019,) into law in late August, which will make California the first state to abolish cash bail, instead giving judges discretion--which is supposed to focus on the person's risk to public safety--to decide which defendants should stay in jail pending trial, and which are lucky enough to get to go home, released on their own recognizance or under certain "pre-trial release" conditions. Currently, bail is usually set according to a “bail schedule,” a standardized chart which directs a judge to set a certain bail in relation to the severity of the offense and the defendant’s previous criminal history.
One of the most common and, arguably, most dangerous criminal offenses is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A DUI driver poses a risk not only to themselves, but to the general public as well. Because of the possible severe consequences of a DUI, California imposes severe punishments. Here’s a quick list of tipson what to do and what not to do if arrested for a DUI.
It is a common misconception to group assault and battery as one in the same even though they are typically charged jointly. The California Penal Code defines “assault” and “battery” differently, making them two distinct criminal acts that require their unique set of requirements. Assault is defined under California Penal Code Section 240, whereas battery is defined under section 242.
Assault is defined under Penal Code Section 240 as, “an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another.” Assault seeks to protect pure psychological injuries because every person has the right to be free from apprehension of a potential injury. What does this mean? As stated in Penal Code Section 240, assault is the unlawful attemptto commit an injury. This means that no actual injury is required, rather the simple attemptto commit the injury is sufficient. For example, shouting profanities at someone does not constitute assault, as mere words are not enough. They do not create a justified apprehension of harm. However, if the words are coupled with physical actions such as balling your fists, or grabbing for a bat, then it could be deemed sufficient. It is the justifiable fear that a person can create towards another from their actions that assault seeks to protect against.
Battery, on the other hand, is taking an assault a step further. Penal Code section 242 defines “battery” as any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another. Battery seeks to protect the bodily integrity of the person. Unlike assault, battery requires that physical contact be made. But what type of physical contact? Typically, this refers to person-to-person contact, such as punching or pushing. However, courts over the years have expanded the meaning of physical contact. The courts have even held that making physical contact with an item that the other is holding, if in close proximity, injures their bodily integrity. Here’s an example, A slaps a plate out of B’s hand. Although A did not make physical contact with B, the plate is considered part of B’s bodily integrity because he was holding it. Another way the courts have expanded the physical contact element is by considering an alleged victim’s particular personal preferences, but only if that preference has already been articulated to the would-be batterer. An extreme example: B is afraid of being hugged. A, knowing of this, lunges at B to hug him. Although hugging is normally a socially acceptable act, B’s prior verbal communication of his sensitivity makes it unacceptable to him. If A hugs B, A had committed a crime.
As always, the intricacies of assault and battery charges depend on the facts. Make sure you find an experience lawyer to assist you, as both assault and battery carry severe penalties if convicted.
As the summer reaches its peak, many drivers are utilizing any available means to stay cool and out of the sun. One of the most common efforts in doing so involves window tinting. Window tinting is utilized for various different reasons, for example: added privacy, prevent damage to the interior of the vehicle, or—as tinting film can reflect incoming light and therefore reduce the glare and heat inside the car—to keep cool. Although many Californians have their windows tinted, window tinting has always been heavily regulated by law enforcement and can be used a means for initiating a traffic stop. In fact, in 2015, the California Highway Patrol reported a total of nearly 2000,000 tickets issued to drivers for violating California window tint law between January 2015 and August 2017!
Vehicle Code §26708 generally prohibits drivers from placing any material that may reduce or obstruct their view through the windshield. (Ironically, it seems Californians are constantly encouraged to do the complete opposite. Parking permits are a great example. Whether instructed to be placed on the windshield or hung on the rear-view mirror, based on the language of the law, doing so could be construed as a violation.) Also, other regulations address the darkness and location of the tint. For example, despite there being no current limitations on the darkness of rear windows, the front side windows must allow more than 70% of light to pass through into the inside the car, and a car can only have non-reflective tint on the top four inches of the windshield.
Through the passage of AB 1303, California created a small but important exemption to the window shield tint and object placement prohibition; Californians who obtain a signed certificate by a dermatologist indicating the driver has a sensitivity to UV rayscan now tint their windshields. It is important to keep in mind, however, that those utilizing this exemption can still expect to have interactions with law enforcement stemming from their use of tint as officers can still use a perceived violation of the tinting laws as probable cause to initiate a traffic stop. …And once an officer has probable cause to pull you over, his observations while conducting that routine traffic stop are all fair game.
So if you are one of the drivers for whom window tint is medically recommended, by all means take advantage of the new exemption created by AB 1303. But remember, this could potentially result in an increased likelihood of interactions with law enforcement so make sure your other documentation such as license, insurance, and registration are all up to date!
Also of note, (1) a driver is required to have dual side mirrors if the rear window of the car is tinted, and (2) a driver cannot use red, amber or blue tint on any window.
For example if the driver has either Lupus or xeroderma pigmentosum
There's an interesting discussion taking place surrounding the jail sentence of Julie Eldred. The following info was cut and pasted from this site.
"Julie Eldred [originally convicted of theft-related charges] was a drug addict on criminal probation – which required her to stay clean. She was trying to. But as so often happens, she couldn’t. The judge sent her to jail for 10 days. Is that what our society ought to do? Is relapse a crime requiring time behind bars – or a symptom of disease requiring treatment? ..."
"The irony is both dark and profound: Only in death do drug users become victims. Until then, they are criminals. In addition, a vast majority of American prisons deny opioid addicts access to medication-assisted therapy, or MAT, which uses Food and Drug Administration-approved medications that can relieve opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Most addiction specialists say MAT is far and away the most effective treatment for opioid use disorder."
One "argument, which is shared by many medical professionals, is that incarceration poses a threat to the recovery process—not that court-ordered drug treatment or testing is unfair, or that criminal sanctions shouldn’t be imposed on probationers who don’t comply with treatment. Eldred had been on a regime of anti-craving medicine, Suboxone, for five days when she relapsed.
'From a therapeutic perspective, it is very disruptive to put somebody in a position where they’re afraid if they talk about relapse—or even talk about cravings to relapse—they could be jailed,' said Newman-Polk, who previously worked as an addiction counselor. 'If the court feels that addiction treatment is a necessary probation condition, then the court system shouldn’t interrupt the treatment process.'”
The case, set to decide if requiring probationers to remain clean is constitutional is currently pending in the Massachusetts Supreme Court.
The California legislature continues its pursuit towards safer roads and its never-ending battle against driving under the influence. Ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft once seen as a tool to combat drunk driving, have lessened the frequency of such criminality, but the cost of a ride can still serve as a disincentive for drinkers to request a ride-share.
Prior to the passage of AB 711 this year, alcohol manufacturers were limited to whom they could offer discounted rides(event invite-only guests). However, California sought to change this. AB 711 seems like a win-win proposition that benefits both the manufacturers and the public. Manufacturers can use these rides as marketing tools while the drinking public benefits from free rides and the general public can rest assured that there are potentially less drunk drivers on the road. Manufacturers can now offer discounted–or even free–rides, which many of us would prefer over the typical fare the manufacturers usually try to bribe us with: koozie or bottle openers. From the potential rider’s consumer point, perhaps the best part about AB 711 is that these free or discounted rides cannot be conditioned on the purchase of the manufacturer’s goods.
Surprisingly, it took six yearsafter the introduction of companies like Uber and Lyft to the general public for this law to be implemented, allowing California to join the vast majority of states in which this type of “advertising under guise of drunk driving prevention” is legal. So why did it take CA so long to implement AB 711? After all, AB 711 on its face seems like a great idea, eliminating those high costs of the ride that can sometimes discourage a person from requesting a Lyft or Uber, andallowing businesses to advertise through the offering of discounted or complimentary rides. Perhaps the delay in enacting such a law was the result of the many critics who opposes bills such as this one. One critic, Reverend James Butler. the executive director of the California Council on Alcohol Problems, was public in his criticism, positing that “[i]f they get free transportation, maybe instead of two beers they have six.” Further, it’s feared by critics that free transportation incentivizes people to drink morethan they would normally drink. Alcohol Justice, a San Rafael-based nonprofit, opposed the bill as they believe it would promote the “overconsumption of alcohol” and “[i]f AB 711 is passed and signed into law it will negatively impact public health and safety and increase the potential of alcohol-related problems,” such as potentially increasing the occurrence of other offenses that typically involve alcohol such as fights, being drunk in public, incidents of domestic violence, or resisting arrest.
So next time you are out in the town, check to see if the establishment you are in offers the services AB 711 seeks to provide, but if they don’t, make sure to request a ride from a sober driver, or one of the various ride services out there such as Uber, Lyft, or taxis. Remember that although that $20 ride may seem expensive at the time, it is nothing compared to the cost of litigating a DUI charge.
So many times my clients ask me if having a friend, family or community member write a letter on their behalf will help their case. Sometimes it will, sometimes it won't. ...But in those cases where a defendant could really benefit from having the DA (while we're in plea bargain negotiations,) or the judge get a glimpse into who "they really are," there are a few things the writer can do to ensure that their letter of support is as effective as possible.
First, understand why the letter matters. Your defense attorney is hoping to use the reference letter demonstrate that their client is a respectful person who leads a full life outside the criminal justice system. The purpose of this letter is NOT to argue that the defendant is innocent.
Second, give the reader a reason to believe that the writer actually does know the defendant is a person worthy of leniency. To do this, the writer needs to explain how he or she knows the defendant, including the context and length of their relationship, and that the writer knows the extent of the legal woes the defendant is facing.
Third, don't just tell the reader that the defendant really is a good person, show them. Give specific examples of things the defendant has done that prove to you that the defendant is a worthy person. tell a story.
Fourth, provide a way for the reader to reach out to the writer, if need be. Although the reader will seldom ever follow up, by providing a full name, and phone number or email address, the writer is not only demonstrating that their commitment to the defendant goes beyond writing a quick letter, it also sends the message that the writer is who they say they are.
Fifth, in almost all cases, keep the letter to less than one page. Judges and DA's are busy people and they may not take the time to read or really consider the contents of a longer letter. Further, by keeping the letter short, it will help the writer keep their focus concise.
Sixth, close the letter by thanking the reader for their time.
The following story was cut and pasted from Attorney John T. Floyd's website:
"On the first day of the trial, Judge Gallagher asked [Defendant Terry Lee] Morris to enter a plea, but Morris wanted to make a defense first. Gallagher warned Morris that he would be removed or shocked if he didn’t comply.
When Morris continued to ignore the warning, Gallagher ordered the bailiff to shock him. After the first shock, Morris said he had a history of mental disorders when Gallagher asked if he would cooperate with the proceedings. The judge then ordered ta second shock.
After the second shock, Morris said he was being tortured. Judge Gallagher responded to this charge by ordering a third shock. At that point, Morris was taken from the courtroom. A conviction and sentence was handed down without his presence.
According to the ruling by the Texas Court of Appeals, shocks of 50,000 volts can impair a defendant’s cognitive abilities. The court ruled that Morris was shocked for punishment, not as a method of containment, which was a violation of his rights. The Court had no choice but to overturn the conviction.
For anyone who cares about rights and freedoms, this is a great thing. No one should have to be subjected to what is essentially torture – especially when they have not even been proven guilty of the crime they’ve been accused of. What does this mean for Mr. Morris? Well, he’s currently serving time in a Huntsville facility for a 1992 conviction for causing a child to experience bodily injury. On top of that, he will be retried for his 2014 charge."
Misconception #1: You can't be charged with a DUI if you haven’t had anything to drink
When most of us think of about being "DUI," we think of alcohol. However, it is also a crime to drive a vehicle under the influence of any drug (be it illegal, prescription, over-the-counter or a combination of prescription and illicit drugs,) that impairs your ability to safety operate that vehicle. it’s also a crime to drive a vehicle when you are not normal, mentally or physically, due to drugs in your system, regardless of whether they are .
Misconception #2: If you're under the influence of alcohol, you can avoid getting a DUI by riding your bike ...or a horse ...or a golf cart ...or a boat
California punishes the act of being under the influence while operating any of those modes of transport.
Misconception #3: You can just "feel" whether you're over the legal limit or not
I hear this one all the time from clients: "I thought I was okay to drive." The reality is that the studies have shown that we are all poor judges of our own level of intoxication. While you may have a good tolerance for alcohol, meaning that your performance may not be as affected as a person with a lower tolerance, you can still be prosecuted for a DUI based on your blood alcohol level.
Misconception #4: You have to take the Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs)
The law does not require you to take these tests, and in fact, most attorneys will tell their clients NOT to take them. Why? Because the tests can be difficult for ever a sober person to perform, and when you're under the added stress of being stopped by law enforcement, the chances of doing well is small. These FSTs include taking a breath test before you are placed under arrest. That said, here in California, must take a chemical test after arrest or your driver's line will be suspended for a year.
Misconception #5: (On that same note) you have to answer the officers questions
With the exception of identifying yourself, and providing your license, registration and proof of insurance, you do NOT have to answer any of the officer's questions. Why? Because you have the right against self-incrimination. So what should you say then? Any of the following will work:
Misconception #6: If you refuse to give a chemical sample, the police will not be able to determine what your BAC is, and therefore you cannot be convicted of a DUI
While you have the right to refuse to give a chemical sample (but be forewarned, the DMV will suspend your license for a year if you had been lawfully arrested at the time of your refusal,) if you are arrested for a DUI the police can and will apply for a warrant to take your blood. If they can make a case to the judge on-call that there is probable cause to suspect you of a DUI, the judge will grant the warrant, and your blood will be (forcibly, if need be,) collected.
Misconception #7: A driver has no way to check the validity of the test results
If you are arrested for a DUI, you will have the choice between a breath or blood sample, and the officer is required to inform you that if you choose the breath test, a sample of your breath will not be preserved for retesting. However, if you choose to have a blood test, your attorney can arrange to have the blood retested. Your attorney can also request the accuracy and maintenance records of whatever device tested your breath/blood so that we can make sure the testing device was working properly.
Misconception #8: Because the officer didn't read you your Miranda rights, you can't be arrested
The Miranda decision only protects defendants from their post-arrest statements being used against them. Two conclusions can be drawn from this. First, Miranda is not required to be read when you are simply pulled over and the officer is conducting his investigation. Second, as long as there is other evidence of your DUI offense (bad driving, chemical test results, FST results, etc.) you can be successfully prosecuted for a DUI.
Misconception #9: Your driver's license will not be suspended until after you've been convicted
In California, you have only 10 days after an arrest for a DUI to notify he DMV that you want a hearing to determine if the DMV can suspend your license; if you fail to contact them before that deadline, the DMV will suspend your license automatically. Worse, if you are later convicted of the DUI, the court will restart the suspension period.
Misconception #10: If you are ordered to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) on your vehicle after a DUI, you can get around this requirement by driving someone else's car.
In California, if you are ordered to install and maintain an IID, you cannot operate ANY vehicle that does not have one.
We all know that being under the influence of any drug can affect our behavior. But while a person may
know how cocaine or alcohol affects him or her independently, not very many people are aware of how a combination of the drugs may influence their behavior and harm their health. Why? Because when a person ingests this combination, the body produces a metabolite called cocaethylene (also known as ethylbenzoylecgonine,) in the liver about two hours after the person has ingested the second of the two drugs. This chemical can cause a longer lasting and more intense symptomology for both drugs due to the cocaethylene both (1) being harder to eliminate from the body (the liver isn't as efficient at filtering it out,) and (2) slowing the reuptake of dopamine.
Studies have shown that people who use these two drugs together often binge drink, which then causes additional heath issues such as: (as you would expect) liver damage, alcohol poisoning, general poor judgment, and (as you may not expect) cardiovascular issues and nerve damage.
In the context of criminal law, a potential defendant should be aware that when under the influence of cocaethylene, they may suffer from increased anxiety, impulsivity, and aggression. Further, they are at a greater risk of stroke, heart attack (because it negatively impacts the heart muscle's ability to properly to contract,) can increase the potential for long-term ever damage, and may suffer from seizures. In fact, the chances of suffering from a sudden death increase between 18-25 times higher than using cocaine alone.
(Perhaps) Surprising results from NHTSA's 2014 NATIONAL ROADSIDE SURVEY of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers
All of the following text and statistics have been taken from the NHTSA's website:
Prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and illegal drugs may cause impairment alone or in combination with each other and/or with alcohol. In every State and the District of Columbia, impaired driving is illegal. Whether by drugs — legal or illegal — alcohol, or a combination of both drugs and alcohol, impaired driving puts the driver, their passengers, and other road users at risk. In NHTSA’s National Roadside Survey conducted in 2013-2014, 20 percent of drivers surveyed tested positive for potentially impairing drugs.
[That study] found an increase in the number of drivers testing positive for marijuana and other drugs that can impair driving skills compared to the 2007 survey findings. In the 2013-2014 survey, nearly one in four drivers tested positive for at least one drug that could potentially affect safe driving skills.
** Overall, 22.3 percent of daytime drivers were drug-positive and 22.5 percent of nighttime drivers were drug- positive in the combined oral fluid or blood.
** The Midwest had the highest percentage of daytime drug-positive drivers...
** The percentage of daytime drug-positive drivers was significantly higher in the Midwest than in the West...
** The Midwest had the highest percentage of nighttime drug-positive drivers as well (30.4%) which was significantly higher than in the West...
** Nighttime drivers in the South (22.9%) were also significantly more likely than drivers in the West to be drug-positive...
** Results of overall drug prevalence by time of day and gender  reveal no statistically significant differences...
** Both males and females aged 21-34 had the highest rates of drug presence....
** Comparisons by race and ethnicity  show that the prevalence of drug positive driving was significantly lower for Asian drivers compared with White drivers in the daytime sample (23.4% versus 6.4%, respectively, ), but not in the nighttime sample...
** The prevalence of drug-positive driving was significantly lower for Hispanic drivers compared with White drivers in the nighttime sample (13.5% vs. 22.2%, respectively)...
** There were no statistically significant drug prevalence differences among daytime drivers of various vehicle types . At night, pickup drivers had a lower drug prevalence than passenger vehicle drivers, which was statistically significant (16.5% versus 24.3%, respectively.)...
** The prevalence of THC-positive, THC-positive-only, and THC-positive plus any other drug in the Midwest was significantly higher than in the West among both daytime and nighttime drivers...
** In the daytime, there was a significantly higher prevalence of THC-positive and THC-positive-only among male drivers than female drivers (12.1% males versus 5.5% females, and 9.7% males versus 4.1% females, p < .05). Males also had a significantly higher THC-positive and THC-positive only prevalence in the nighttime sample (14.6% males versus 9.4% females, and 11.7% males versus 7.4% females, p < .05) There were no other statistically significant differences by drug class, gender and time of day.
... The prevalence of illegal drugs-only was significantly higher among males compared with females among both daytime and nighttime drivers
The full report can be found here.
Devina strives to make information relevant to the lives of her clients easily accessible.