When Is Someone Required To Make A First Court Appearance?
As far as making a first appearance in court, I’m going to talk about a misdemeanor DUI and this is the same as misdemeanor DUI alcohol as for misdemeanor DUI drugs be it marijuana or prescription drugs or even illegal drugs. Generally on any kind of misdemeanor DUI where the person’s appearance isn’t required for example bail is posted. They do not have to go to court, the lawyers can appear for them. We don’t actually want our clients to appear in court on the first court date. We want to be able to speak to the prosecutor, we want to get a copy of the charges, we want to get a copy of the police report and want to send all of that information to our client so that we can thoroughly discuss and investigate the case for our clients.
When the client appears in court for the first time voluntarily, it kind of looks like the lawyer is inclined to plead or encourage the client to plead out on the first court date. That’s absolutely not the way that we practice and what we believe is the best way to fight a DUI case. For felony cases it’s a different story. When a person is on bail, generally speaking, the person needs to be in court on each and every court appearance. From time to time, even in felonies we are able to represent our clients in court without our clients being there. The first appearance is one of the most critical appearances in a DUI case. It can set the stage and the tone for the rest of the case.
We feel and practice this way that it’s not always best to have the client there on the first court date if at all possible.
What Happens To My Driver’s License Once I’ve Been Charged With A DUI?
There are two attacks on a person’s driver’s license once they are arrested for DUI. One is administratively, and that is through the DMV. There are different terms of suspensions depending on the nature of the allegations be it a first offense, a first offense refusal or second offense, second offense refusal etc. The other attack is a suspension based on the type of conviction that occurs in court. There are different levels of suspension there as well that the DMV would impose based on what type of conviction occurred in court and the court submits the record to the Department of Motor Vehicles. That’s why it’s extremely important to call us right away so that we can protect the client’s driving privileges in California which brings up another issue.
Oftentimes California has a lot of visitors from other states come here. Either they move here but they don’t change their driver’s license to California for various reasons or they are visiting Disneyland or visiting family members, Sea world and other tourist attractions like Hollywood. There are many tourist attractions here in Southern California. So it’s important that they also contact an attorney right away because what happens in California could impact their home state driver’s license as well. There are many possible scenarios and DUI defense is very complicated, both the law as well as the science, as well as the procedures and it could be a maze for people to become very overwhelmed very quickly.
We are very experienced in this and have been for a number of decades which is why it is very important that people get a hold of us right away.
Does Your Firm Assist Clients In The DMV Hearings?
Yes. We’ve conducted thousands of DMV hearings. We try and win every DMV hearing but for somebody to try and handle it themselves, it can be absolutely overwhelming. We know what the issues are in each and every case, we know what the evidence is in each and every case. We know the strengths and weaknesses of the DMV administrative proceedings. Some people don’t think the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) proceedings are conducted fairly because the hearing officer is also the prosecutor and the judge so to speak. For example, if the hearing officer wants to introduce certain evidence and we object, the hearing officer is ruling on his or her own evidence that’s to be introduced. The burden of proof is different at the DMV and the issues are different than they are at court. So a lot is different at the DMV than it is in court.
We would prefer to also handle the DMV matter in every DUI case. Even people who are arrested for DUI drugs be it marijuana, prescription drugs or non-prescription drugs, we always contact the DMV just to make sure that there has been no administrative proceeding against them. The officers oftentimes mistakenly submit a notice of suspension and a temporary license is issued to the driver which brings me to another area that we’ve seen a lot more lately. It’s called the Notice of Re-Exam. This where a person who is on prescription drugs and somehow comes into contact with a police officer or a doctor or somebody who is in a position to contact the DMV or the person walks into the DMV himself or herself, we’ve seen this as well.
A Re-Exam notice means that when a person is given this notice, within a matter of days, 5 days, the DMV needs to be contacted because a hearing is to be conducted to determine whether or not the person’s license should be suspended. For example, we’ve represented people who’ve been pulled over for DUI or they are in an accident and oftentimes, it’s elderly people who come in contact with the police and in addition to the DUI, the police officer will suspect that a person is unable to operate a car separate and aside from a DUI and will get them a Notice of Re-Exam and submit it to the DMV. Another scenario would be that person is visiting a doctor’s office or a hospital and either complained of passing out, loss of consciousness and a medical provider feels obligated to report to the DMV of this loss or lapse of consciousness. The DMV will then trigger on its own a Notice of Re-Exam.
We’ve also seen it where a client of ours walked into the DMV and based on the interaction between the people, the person had a disease, and the counter person at the DMV misinterpreted the person’s disease as the person not being able to drive a car. That triggered a Notice of Re-Exam as well. In this scenario, this is where the state actually wants to take away your license. The theory being that they want to make sure that people are safe to drive and not unsafe because of age, infirmity or some other reason. We have been very successful with DMV Re-Exam cases as well.
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