A common question that I find myself answering all the time, related to DUI defense in Los Angeles, has to do with what my client’s responsibilities are 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 the course of my twenty five years of practicing DUI defense. My aim is to always make things easy for the client and to make sure that their case goes smoothly and 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. Many times we can negotiate a deal without you being present and do the paperwork through the mail with the use of a notary.
If you want to fight your DUI, it is usually best to be present in order to assist with your defense and to show the jury that you care about the case and its outcome. If you are looking to fight, then you must be part of the process to have any realistic chance to win.
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 case 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, then we will usually have you come to court in order to finalize everything. This gives you an opportunity to know what the prosecutors want to resolve the case without the pressure of being in the courtroom and having to make 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 more than one occasion after an attorney did not sufficiently explain to the client what their responsibilities were and the ball was dropped in the court. This can lead to embarrassment and down right disaster for the client that must be avoided at all costs.
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 whole lot of worry and headache for nothing.
Most problems like this can all be avoided if you are properly advised and are present at the final court appearance and go through everything with the attorney step by step and therefore know exactly what your responsibilities are related to your DUI case.
Is it really that scary in DUI court? Most people have a fear of public speaking and being put on the spot. This fear is amplified when they are forced to go into court in order to answer criminal / DUI charges. From my stand point, this fear can be significantly alleviated when you know exactly what is going to happen in court and you already know what the resolution to the case will be before you set foot in the courtroom.
This is why we make it a point in the defense of those charged with DUI cases in Los Angeles to give them a full run down of exactly what will happen in court and to make sure they know the outcome before going to court. This can be accomplished in most of the DUI’s that we defend and our clients seem to really appreciate how smoothly things go in the courtroom.
In those few cases where we do not know the outcome before going to court the day of the appearance, we have the client wait outside the courtroom while the attorney goes in and speaks with the prosecutor and / or judge. Once we have a clear understanding of how we will proceed, then we go back out and discuss the matter with the client and make the moves that are in their best interest.