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The DUI Criminal Case

California driving under the influence (DUI) arrests usually initiate two separate cases. The first DUI case is the DUI criminal case, defended in the San Francisco Superior Court, the Federal Court for the Northen District of California or the court located in the county where the DUI arrest occurred. If the arrest occurred on the San Francisco Bay Bridge or the Golden Gate Bridge, the California Highway Patrol officer will have discretion in deciding whether to book the arrested person into the San Francisco, Marin County (San Rafael), or one of the Alameda County jails.

The second DUI case is the Department of Motor Vehicles license suspension case which is defended at a DMV Hearing. The California criminal case procedures are highly technical. For that reason, any person arrested for driving under the influence should be represented by a qualified DUI lawyer with specialized experience in DUI defense and California Department of Motor Vehicles license suspension Hearings. If you cannot afford to hire an attorney, it is important to understand that a court appointed attorney represents a person in the criminal case, not the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) license suspension case.

By understanding your legal rights and practical options, a person accused of DUI can eliminate confusion and errors which are commonly made by inexperienced attorneys and people who are not represented by an attorney. If you have questions regarding the criminal case, you should speak with a DUI lawyer who specializes in this area of the law. A DUI criminal defense attorney will inform you of your rights and options throughout the process.

The Phases of the Criminal Process
The San Francisco DUI criminal case usually begins when a person is stopped by a California Highway Patrol Officer, San Francisco Police Officer, or other law enforcement officer for suspicion of driving under the influence or other traffic violation. California Highway Patrol Officers and San Francisco Police Officers must have a reasonable suspicion or probable cause for making the traffic stop. During the traffic stop, law enforcement will have the driver pull off the freeway or to the side of the roadway. The officer will initially ask the driver questions, but the driver has the right to refuse to answer any incriminating questions. A DUI stop and DUI investigation is not the same as a DUI arrest.

DUI investigations are also initiated at the scene of traffic accidents when the police are called or come upon the accident scene by coincidence.

Before the officer can make a DUI arrest, he or she must have probable cause. Probable cause is reasonable belief that the person committed a crime. When a person is placed under arrest, he or she has constitutional rights, which are very important to understand. Every person who is arrested has the right to remain silent and the right to have an attorney.

Law enforcement must read Miranda Rights to each person they arrest if they ask post arrest questions regarding the offense. Miranda Rights inform the person of the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. Miranda Rights do not have to be read until a person is taken into police custody and only if the law enforcement officer plans to ask post arrest questions about the criminal offense. In most cases, the police don't read Miranda rights to the person they arrest. The failure of the police to read Miranda rights doen not invalidate the arrest, but may lead to the suppression of post arrest statements.

After the DUI arrest has been made, the driver is taken to the police station or County Jail for booking. During the booking process, the arrested person is fingerprinted, photographed, and asked his or her name and date of birth. Personal property is also collected and stored away from the person.

Shortly after a driver has been arrested for driving under the influence in San Francisco, criminal charges will be filed by the San Francisco District Attorney with the San Francisco Superior Court. The filing of the criminal charges by the District Attorney is what actually initiates the criminal case, not the arrest. The first appearance in court is called an Arraignment. The purpose of the Arraignment if for the identification of the arrested person's attorney, the receipt of initial Discovery (police and lab reports) from the District Attorney, the the entry of a plea of Not Guilty, Guilty, or No Contest, and the setting of future court dates. At the Arraignment, the Judge will either set release terms which may include attending Alcoholic Anonymous meetings, require bail or remand the arrested person (now called the Defendant) into custody.

After the Arraignment, the case will progress to a Pretrial Conference. In San Francisco, a Pretrial Conference is a settlement conference involving the District Attorney, the Judge and the attorney for the person who is accused of driving under the influence. Pretrial conferences are conducted fifteen (15) to forty-five (45) days after the Arraignment.

California criminal offenses punishable by six (6) or more months of jail time are entitled to be decided by a jury. Most San Francisco DUI cases do not proceed to Trial. If a person is found Guilty after Trial, he or she will be Sentenced by the judge. A person found guilty has the right to Appeal the decision. In California misdemeanor cases, a person must file a Notice of Appeal within thirty (30) days after conviction or sentencing.

San Francisco DUI Attorney

If you have been arrested for DUI in San Francisco, hiring a qualified DUI attorney is a good decision. A qualified attorney will protect your rights, inform you of your legal options, investigate the circumstances surrounding the arrest, visit the scene of the DUI stop, and question law enforcement officers and other witnesses. An experienced DUI attorney can also provide the resources and aggressive defense you will need to successfully defend your DUI charges if you decide to take your case to Trial.

Robert Tayac has been helping people charged with DUI in San Francisco for over fifteen (15) years. He has the specialized education, training, and experience to defend your driving under the influence case. When you work with Robert Tayac, you will know that you have hired a knowledgeable and trustworthy DUI defense lawyer, who will guide you through the criminal and DMV process and minimize its impact.