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San Diego County Criminal Defense Legal Blog

Are you familiar with the criminal process for a DUI?

Being charged with drunk driving may feel like the end point of a situation, but it is actually the beginning of a much longer process. Following a DUI arrest, a defendant may be faced with any number of situations in which he or she may have to make important decisions. It is very helpful for defendants to understand the nature of the process before making any of those decisions.

In California, a police officer will send a copy of a notice of revocation or suspension to the Department of Motor Vehicles -- the DMV -- after making a DUI arrest. The driver's confiscated license will also be sent. At that point, the DMV will conduct an administrative review to decide whether the revocation or suspension should be upheld. If it is upheld the driver will receive a notice. He or she then has 10 days to request an administrative review that could possibly return the suspended or revoked driving privileges.

Don’t make these mistakes at a California DUI checkpoint

With police throughout San Diego County cracking down on driving under the influence, it's critical to understand the steps you can take to avoid trouble. Furthermore, if you come face-to-face with a DUI checkpoint, knowing what you should and shouldn't do improves the likelihood of avoiding an arrest.

Here are five of the most common mistakes drivers make at a DUI checkpoint:

  • Suspicious driving: This can include everything from stopping and starting to switching lanes. If it's anything that gives an officer reason to take notice, it's something you want to avoid.
  • Open alcohol container: This is a surefire sign that you've been drinking and driving. Even if you're not under the influence, it is illegal to drive with an open container of alcohol in your vehicle.
  • Talking back: Even if you don't like the way the officer is treating you, remain respectful throughout your interaction. If you talk back, it gives them more of a reason to dig deeper. It could also lead to an arrest for another crime, such as obstruction of justice.
  • Complaining about your legal rights: Don't tell the officer that it's illegal for them to stop your vehicle. Don't explain your legal rights. This goes along with talking back. Don't say anything that will raise suspicious or draw the ire of the officer.
  • Remain calm if you're put under arrest: It's frustrating, embarrassing and scary, but if you're put under arrest for driving under the influence you should remain calm. Fighting back can result in additional criminal charges, such as resisting arrest. You're best off using this time to make note of exactly what's happening, as the knowledge you collect can help you prevent a conviction.

Bill would improve data collection in criminal justice system

California's criminal justice system has serious flaws that impact defendants all across the state. However, the state legislature recently passed a criminal justice bill aimed at improving criminal justice records and creating methods for courts to easily share important data. Even though it was passed by the state legislature, it will not become law until the governor signs it.

In its current state, the state's criminal justice system has a significant number of data gaps in its criminal history records. According to the recently passed bill AB 1331, these gaps mean that the records are inaccurate and not reliable. This is backed up by an estimate from the Department of Justice, which says that 60% of arrest records do not have necessary disposition information, like judges' rulings or sentencing. The data gaps in criminal history records can and do lead to the criminalization of otherwise innocent people.

Is domestic violence just physical abuse?

Allegations of violence in the home, between intimate partners or even against family members are very serious. Domestic violence charges can alter the course of a person's future. While mounting a strong defense is essential for minimizing the criminal and personal impacts, California defendants may struggle to do so if they do not fully understand their charges.

The Justice Office on Violence against women defines domestic violence as a pattern of abusive behavior in a relationship. That behavior is usually wielded by only one person as a method to maintain or gain control over the other person. Domestic violence can occur between spouses, children, cohabitants, family members and partners who are dating, intimate or in a sexual relationship.

Be prepared to face your theft charges

If you were recently arrested for allegedly taking another person's property, you probably have a lot of questions about your current situation. Theft charges are quite serious in California, so your position at work, school or even in your local community could be at risk. You could also end up spending time behind bars if convicted. Here are a few things you should know about theft charges.

Theft charges can be either misdemeanors or felonies, which carry different criminal consequences If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you could spend up to a year in a county jail. Felony charges are usually for allegations of theft that involve more than $950, and sentences could land you in prison for as long as three years. Spending time behind bars is on top of fines you will also probably have to pay if convicted.

Confused about your assault and battery charges? You're not alone

It is perhaps not that uncommon for California police to arrest people on charges that these individuals do not fully understand. Certain charges are used quite frequently in popular media, including assault and battery, which do not always line up with the reality of how authorities file and pursue these allegations. Defendants who are charged with assault and battery, and are confused about their circumstances, should consider the following.

Assault and battery are not one in the same. In general, assault is defined as attempting to harm another person. For example, assault could take place in a situation where a person swings at another person but misses, engages in threatening behavior or makes threats of immediate violence. These attempts must be intentional to truly be considered assault. Since assault does not require that any physical touch takes place between two parties, it is sometimes referred to as attempted battery instead.

Understanding California robbery laws

If you have been accused of a crime, it makes sense to prioritize spending time researching the nature of the offense, and how the law works. If you have been accused of stealing something, you may be facing robbery charges in California.

Being found guilty of robbery can potentially lead to serious consequences. This is why you should act swiftly to develop a solid defense. By understanding the intricacies of the law, you will be better equipped to do this.

Military Diversions can help service members charged with crimes

Serving in the U.S. Armed Forces is a selfless act that not many people are willing to make. While both active duty members and veterans typically take great pride in their service, these men and women often endure traumatic events.

Suffering extreme trauma can influence a person's behavior and actions, which on occasion manifests in criminal behavior. The Military Diversion program might be an option for those who are facing misdemeanor charges in California.

Driver charged with DUI in fatal accident

California police recently arrested a woman accused of a fatal drunk driving incident. She is facing multiple charges, including for a DUI, a hit-and-run accident resulting in injury or death, gross vehicular manslaughter and murder. This the driver's second DUI arrest, although it is not clear if she was convicted after her 2011 arrest.

The 33-year-old woman was denied service at a bar, and the manager cited her allegedly inebriated behavior -- including nearly stepping on a dog and being excessively loud -- as the reason. Police believe that she then went to a different bar at approximately 11:30 p.m., where her 25-year-old co-worker and his girlfriend were having a date. She was also denied service there.

Don't wait to act on domestic violence charges

Accusations of domestic abuse can be devastating. Dealing with these types of charges is especially difficult because of the sensitive nature of these matters, and you may feel as if you have few options to assert your own rights. If you were charged with domestic violence, it is important to remain vigilant with your defense. Here is some information about domestic violence that might help you better understand your charges, which can be useful during criminal defense planning.

In California, domestic violence can occur between any two people who have a close, personal relationship. While allegations of this sort often occur between couples who are married or dating, a romantic component is not a necessary component of a close relationship. Some defendants are confused when they are charged with domestic violence for a nonromantic relationship since news reports and popular entertainment forms usually only depict romantically-involved couples dealing with this issue.

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