A skilled criminal lawyer for felony DUI with over 25 years of experience, David Pflaum protects the rights of his clients and gets the best possible results for them.
Don’t think that just because you got arrested for a felony DUI that your only option is to plead guilty, go to prison or jail, pay a large fine, attend an alcohol school, lose your license, and ruin your record.
You have constitutional rights. Let a skilled criminal lawyer with decades of experience fight for your rights.
HOW THE CRIMINAL LAWYER HELPS THE CLIENT GET OUT OF JAIL
Get Released: If you or someone you know has been arrested and put in jail for an accusation of felony DUI, there are many ways the criminal lawyer helps get the person released from jail immediately or during the first court date at arraignment.
For more information click on the words get released as soon as possible.
HOW THE CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER HELPS DURING THE COURT PROCESS
The defense attorney does his best to convince the District Attorney’s Office to reduce the felony to a misdemeanor and to reduce the penalties, including avoiding time in prison or jail custody, and saving the driver’s license.
The first thing that the criminal defense lawyer needs to do is meet with the client to find out what happened and to learn everything he can about the client’s background and present status.
Then, after analyzing the case, reviewing the arrest reports, viewing diagrams of the area of arrest and detention, experts reports, crime lab analysis results, witness statements, video and surveillance tapes, medical records, toxicology reports, and any other evidence that the police claim supports the charges, Mr. Pflaum appears in court with his client.
Plea Bargaining: The first step normally in a felony DUI is to get a plea bargain to eliminate or reduce the criminal charges, avoid more jail time, and minimize the punishment that a judge and prosecutor might want to impose.
Defense Strengths: Good plea bargains come about because the criminal defense attorney knows his client well, investigates the case, carefully reviews the police reports, the medical records, DNA, fingerprints, videos, photographs, tape recordings, 911 calls, forensic evidence, witness interviews, and everything else associated with the case to develop the strengths of a case.
Evidence: If the California Highway Patrol is involved, there should be a video recording of the driver before he or she was pulled over.
If you were arrested by another law enforcement agency, most of them now have body cameras that may be helpful in proving whether the field sobriety tests were done correctly, and that the accused was not under the influence of alcohol.
The video recordings can be very helpful to challenge the reason why the police stopped your car, or prolonged the detention of you longer than was necessary, or the performance on the field sobriety tests.
If a judge agrees that the police had no valid reason to stop your car, the case may be dismissed.
Sobriety Checkpoint: If you were stopped at a sobriety checkpoint, there are procedures the police must follow in order to obey the law. If the police did not follow the procedures, a judge may dismiss the case.
Field Sobriety Tests: The results of the field sobriety tests can vary from person to person. Most experts agree that field sobriety tests are coordination tests that do not significantly evaluate a person for sobriety.
The police almost always claim that a person “failed” the field sobriety tests, but there are numerous ways to show that a person performed them just fine and the person was not under the influence.
Alcohol Tests: There are three separate tests available to law enforcement: 1) a preliminary alcohol screening (“PAS”) device; 2) a intoxilizer; 3) a blood test.
The PAS test requires consent, and that the PAS operator have training and calibration logs for the device.
The intoxilizer machine is located at the jail and requires certifications and that the officer observed the client continuously for 15 minutes prior to giving a breath sample and that the machine was tested prior to and after the person gave a breath sample.
A blood test requires the consent of the person who was arrested or a warrant. The results of the sample are not available for 2-3 weeks, and may be retested by an independent forensic toxicologist.
Driving Pattern: The manner in which a person was driving is an important factor. If a person was pulled over for a minor equipment violation, or some other minor infraction, there are jury instructions that will help you possibly win your case.
Prosecution Weaknesses: By the same process, the criminal defense attorney develops weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case such as inconsistencies in witness statements, problems with the arrest or the investigation, discrepancies in the conduct of the investigating officers, missing or inconclusive evidence, and problems in the forensic evidence.
Effective Presentation: The criminal defense attorney then makes a persuasive presentation to the judge and prosecutor about the strengths of his client’s case, and weaknesses of the prosecution’s case, to achieve an excellent plea bargain for his client.
If the offer of a plea bargain is acceptable to the client and the defense attorney, the case is resolved and proceeds to sentencing in accordance with the plea bargain.
If the plea bargain offer is not acceptable, the case continues through the court system to additional hearings, and heads towards a trial.
Jury Trial: If there is a dispute about the question of whether a person was driving under the influence in violation of the felony DUI law, sometimes the best option is to go to trial.
An experienced attorney knows how to prepare witnesses for trial, cross examine the police officer and the experts, and present a solid defense.
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT DEFENDING A FELONY DUI
A felony charge for driving under the influence of alcohol/drugs arises when a driver causes injury to another person after having consumed alcohol, medications, a drug, or a combination of them.
Vehicle Code sections 23153(a) and 23153(b) are the applicable provisions that apply to felony driving under the influence charges.
Vehicle Code sections 23153(a)(b) may also be charged as a misdemeanor.
If the injury to another person is serious, the police and the prosecution may add sentencing enhancements under Penal Code 667.5 and 1192.7 that elevate the felony DUI to a “violent” or a “serious” felony, also known as a “strike.”
A person may also be charged with a felony violation if he or she has three or more prior convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
All people arrested for violation of Vehicle Code sections 23153(a)(b) are arrested, unless the accused is in the hospital.
Proof: To prove a felony DUI causing injury, the prosecution must prove that the person arrested for driving under the influence:
- Drove a vehicle
- Drove a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both
- That while driving under the influence the driver committed an illegal act or neglected a legal duty
- Which cause bodily injury to another person
Factors: Some of the most common factors that the police and the prosecution will look at to determine whether the DUI is a felony are the following.
- Was anyone injured
- What were the injuries
- What was the blood alcohol content of the driver
- Was there a toxicology test of the driver
- Did the toxicology test show the presence of drugs or medications
- What was the cause of the accident
- Was there an accident reconstruction
- What was the driving pattern of the accused
- Who is the accused
- What is the background of the accused
- What statements did the accused make to the police or witnesses
- Does the accused have prior convictions for DUI
THE GREAT BODILY INJURY ENHANCEMENT
In the most serious cases of felony DUI, the prosecution will allege that the driver caused great bodily injury to another that was ‘substantial.’
This typically includes serious injury that caused the victim to be hospitalized.
The prosecution will charge the accused with additional penalties, called ‘sentencing enhancements’ which cause the felony DUI to be elevated to a serious felony and/or violent felony. These are commonly called “strikes.” (see Penal Code section 1192.7 and section 667.5).
A felony DUI that is also a strike may result in additional punishment in prison, including 3 years for each victim suffering great bodily injury.
Contact us today for a valuable legal consultation
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