Prosecuting a DUI Case in Los Angeles – The District Attorney's Office Or The City Attorney's Office?
For those of you who do not know about DUI's and how they're dealt with in Los Angeles County, most of the time the City Attorney is going to deal with this misdemeanor DUI cases.
However, if the case is filed as a felony, the City Attorney will not deal with it. The District Attorney deals with the case.
Then there are cases where jurisdictionally, the District Attorney deals with a DUI even if it is a misdemeanor.
For example, in the Van Nuys court, if something is filed in Malibu — which is now a closed-down courthouse — a percentage of those cases go to the District Attorney's office in the Van Nuys courthouse.
In Valencia for example, there is only a District Attorney's office there. So, for those courthouses like Valencia who only have a District Attorney's office, obviously they're going to deal with all of the cases, including any misdemeanor DUI's that are filed in that jurisdiction.
So, in general — and I've been doing this for twenty-five years, it's the City Attorney's Office that deals with DUI's across LA County.
Knowing How to Deal With Tendencies of DUI Prosecutors
However, there are a number of jurisdictions and a number of areas where the District Attorney deals with them.
So, obviously, if you do DUI defense in Los Angeles County, you're going to have to know how to deal with both, and you're going to have to know what both entities tendencies are.
I do have a number of cases where the District Attorney gets the case. It's a questionable case and they're trying to do something that I will consider out of the ordinary. I have asked them on numerous occasions to at least ask the City Attorneys how they handle those cases.
Sometimes they're insulted by that request; other times they get what I'm saying and they will check into it. To me, it's an equal protection argument.
If a District Attorney is not being reasonable when it comes to a DUI case in Los Angeles and not being fair and not at least being consistent with what the City Attorney is doing in the exact same jurisdiction.
Then that's something that needs to be pointed out to the prosecutors and they sometimes need to re-evaluate and think about how they're going to deal with a particular DUI.
First Time DUI Offense
For example, if somebody blows under a .08, that person in general — especially if it's a first-time offense — really shouldn't have to plead to a DUI. As everybody knows, .08 or greater is the standard.
But we have District Attorney's offices filing .06's, .07's and their using California Vehicle Code 23152 which doesn't really have anything to do with the percentage of alcohol.
It has more to do with the fact that you had alcohol in your system and you couldn't safely operate a motor vehicle. The way they prosecute that is by all the tests that the police do on you and by any statement that you make regarding your alcohol intake.
So, the bottom line is, whether it's the District Attorney or the City Attorney that's handling it, you're going to need a DUI lawyer who knows how to deal with those entities — knows how to deal with those prosecutors, what their tendencies are, what will get them to mitigate a crime down to a lesser crime, to dismiss a crime under the right circumstances, and it becomes complex.
There are a thousand District Attorneys and hundreds of City Attorneys throughout LA County.
There are twenty to thirty different courthouses. You really need to know the lay of the land when it comes to DUI's in Los Angeles County if you're going to practice in this area.
And that's what we do. We sit down with clients and go over everything. We get a game plan together. We know who we're dealing with.
We also have to consider the Judges tendencies as well. So, when you have all these different factors at play, you've got to know what to do and when to do it if you want to get the client the best possible result.
If you're looking for a DUI defense attorney, make the phone call. Come in. We'll sit down and we'll get our strategy together.