A common question that I find myself answering all the time related to DUI defense in Los Angeles is my client's responsibilities regarding attending their DUI court appearances.
The answer as to whether a person has to attend their court appearances, as with many things in life and DUI defense, is, “it depends.” I can give you what I find the best practice and procedures in my twenty-five years of practicing DUI defense. I aim to always make things easy for the client and ensure that their case goes smoothly without any problems.
If you are an out-of-state driver and do not wish to come back to California to deal with your DUI matter, we will try and accommodate that request in every way possible. We can often negotiate a deal without you being present and do the paperwork through the mail using a notary.
If you want to fight your DUI, it is usually best to be present to assist with your defense and show the jury that you care about the case and its outcome. If you are looking to fight, you must be part of the process to have any realistic chance to win.
First DUI Court Appearance
If, on the other hand, you are an in-state driver, then our usual protocol is to attend the first court appearance for you, pick up the discovery in the case (review it), discuss the case with the prosecutor and continue the issue so we can get you a copy of the paperwork and plan our strategy.
If, after discussing the matter, we decide to negotiate a resolution with the prosecutor/judge, we will usually have you come to court to finalize everything. This lets you know what the prosecutors want to resolve the case without the pressure of being in the courtroom and making a snap decision.
I find this is the best procedure to avoid any confusion and make sure everything you are required to do is completed on time in the right way. When attorneys try and cut their clients out of the mix, it typically leads to problems. I have had to come in on more than one occasion after an attorney did not sufficiently explain to the client their responsibilities, and the ball was dropped in the court. This can lead to embarrassment and downright disaster for the client that must be avoided.
If you fail to do something that you are ordered to do in a DUI case, you can be punished for violating your probation. This can lead to jail time, increased fines, cal trans, and a lot of worry and headaches for nothing.
Most problems like this can all be avoided if you are correctly advised, present at the final court appearance, go through everything with the attorney step by step, and know precisely your responsibilities related to your DUI case.
Defending DUI Cases in Court
Is it that scary in DUI court? Most people fear public speaking and being put on the spot. This fear is amplified when they are forced to court to answer criminal / DUI charges. From my standpoint, this fear can be significantly alleviated when you know exactly what will happen in court and already know the resolution to the case before you set foot in the courtroom.
We make it a point in defense of those charged with DUI cases in Los Angeles to give them an entire rundown of precisely what will happen in court and make sure they know the outcome before going to court. This can be accomplished in most DUIs that we defend, and our clients seem to appreciate how smoothly things go in the courtroom.
In those few cases where we do not know the outcome before going to court on the day of the appearance, we have the client wait outside the courtroom while the attorney goes in and speaks with the prosecutor and judge. Once we have a clear understanding of how we will proceed, we go back out and discuss the matter with the client and make the moves in their best interest.