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Can You Appeal a DUI Conviction in California?

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding | Feb 26, 2018

Having done DUI cases in Los Angeles for the past twenty-five years, I get asked all the time by people who are not happy with the outcome of their DUI case whether they can appeal it.

You can undoubtedly appeal your case as long as you're within the appropriate time-frames of the appeal and have followed all of the rules. This is something you're going to want to consult an attorney about to see if you've already waived any potential appellate rights or you didn't act fast enough.

But the critical thing when it comes to deciding whether or not you can appeal your case is whether there's an appealable issue. In other words, is there something that went wrong during your case that affected your rights in such a way that you legally have grounds for an appeal?

Because if you don't have any grounds for an appeal in a DUI case, you're simply wasting your time and your money. So, if you think you've got a good issue on appeal, you should seek out the advice of a good DUI appellate lawyer who has handled cases similar to yours.

Give them all of the details, let them talk to your attorney, and then decide whether it's worth your time, money, and aggravation to appeal your case.

Some of the types of grounds for an appeal relate to how you ended up with the conviction. In other words, did you go to a jury trial, and you were found guilty by jury?

Grounds for DUI Appeal

If that's the case, then some of the areas you could attack are that you weren't permitted to present some of your evidence during the DUI trial, or the prosecutor was permitted to show specific evidence that they shouldn't have been able to show that influenced the jury in the wrong way.

There's a myriad of grounds for appeal action, but you're going to want to get somebody that's gone down this road before and knows exactly how to deal with an appeal related to a DUI in Los Angeles County.

Another way that you can end up with a conviction is if you enter into a plea bargain and work out a deal with the prosecutor. Then the judge puts their blessing on it, and you end up pleading guilty or no contest and going through the terms of the deal you worked out yourself.

In this scenario, it's much more difficult to appeal because the Appellate Judge will say, well, wait a minute, you're the one who worked this deal out. Why did you plead guilty or no contest if you weren't guilty of the crime? So, in this circumstance, you're going to have to show something.

Usually, this has to do with you claiming that your lawyer was ineffective in some way, didn't advise you properly or did something wrong during the trial or plea negotiation, didn't do the proper investigation that is necessary for your case- so there are several ways that you can try to argue that even though you entered a plea, your plea wasn't voluntary in some way or that your attorney messed the case up.

Of course, this is a tough row to hoe, not an easy standard, and not easy to prove. So, before you go down this road, again, you're going to want to consult with an appellate lawyer who's done these cases before, been down this path, had success, and knows what it takes to be successful in an appeal.

Before you Appeal a Case, You Should Do the Case Right the First Time

This is information that should be apparent to most people that you don't even want to get yourself in a position to have to appeal your DUI conviction. Get the best attorney you possibly can. Ensure that all of the evidence related to your case is given to that attorney.

Ensure that all investigations are done on the case, and do everything you can to help your attorney. If you've chosen the right attorney, you've given him all the information, and you still end up having to negotiate a plea bargain in a DUI or go to the jury, and you lose, then that's probably the end of it.

To go back and try to cry over spilled milk is usually never, in my experience, a good idea. It just continues to aggravate you, make you angry, and bring up bad feelings. Instead, let a lawyer look into it if you think there's an excellent appellate issue.

Tell him to be honest with you about it and not waste your money and your time, and if they tell you no, I don't see anything here, then move on with your life. Then at that point, you can attempt to expunge the matter.

In California, there's no such thing as a true expungement so that you won't be completely wiping the conviction off your record, but you will be able to get a dismissal of the case if you're successful in the expungement on your DUI case. Then if anybody can find it, they're going to see that the case was dismissed, and that's the best you can do in California when it comes to DUI convictions or any conviction for that matter.

So, suppose you feel like you have a DUI case that needs to be appealed. In that case, you should sit down with a qualified appellate lawyer, let them go over all of the facts of your case – be honest with them, don't put some giant spin on things – tell them what happened – and then let them guide you through as to whether or not it's worth your time to try to appeal your DUI case.

About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding

What Makes Ronald Hedding Uniquely Qualified To Represent You? I've been practicing criminal defense for almost 30 years and have handled thousands of cases, including all types of state and federal sex crime cases. All consultations are discreet and confidential.

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