Can I Appeal a DUI Conviction?

Posted on Tuesday, January 15th, 2019 at 7:47 am    

Things may seem hopeless if you’ve been convicted of a DUI in California, but a guilty verdict doesn’t necessarily mean that your case is over. You may be able to appeal the ruling, which is a request to have a higher court review the trial proceedings and correct certain types of mistakes. There are strict rules established for appeals, especially as they relate to how and why you can appeal a DUI conviction.

At Spolin Law P.C., our Los Angeles appeals attorneys are well-versed on the grounds for taking a DUI conviction to an appellate court. Our team has in-depth knowledge of the appeals process, which involves drafting briefs and presenting arguments to appeals judges. To learn about how we fight for the rights of clients who were wrongfully convicted of DUI, contact us today at (310) 424-5816.

Grounds for Appealing a DUI in California

There’s a common misconception that an appeal is similar to a second trial, where the court reconsiders the facts and circumstances of a conviction. However, appellate courts can only hear cases in which a legal error occurred during trial proceedings. Some of the familiar elements of a trial are noticeably missing, such as:

Witnesses

Neither your attorney or the prosecutor can bring in witnesses to testify before the appellate court. You cannot have someone testify again, nor can you introduce a new witness that was not available for your trial.

Evidence

No evidence will be presented during an appeal, so you cannot present any information or documents that weren’t introduced during your trial.

Both of these components relate to the facts of the case, and it’s not the job of the appellate court to assess any factual issues. The only item the judges will review on appeal is the record of the trial proceedings, which is a document describing everything that happened during your trial.

Factors an Appeals Court Will Consider

Since appellate courts focus on legal errors, the judges will review the trial record to assess issues raised by your appeals lawyer. Examples include:

  • Misconduct by your defense lawyer or the prosecutor
  • Illegally-obtained evidence was allowed in violation of your civil rights
  • Members of the jury disregarded the instructions of the judge
  • Evidence in your favor was erroneously suppressed
  • Other circumstances involving a legal mistake, as opposed to a factual error

What an Appellate Court Decision Means for Your DUI Case

The appeals process doesn’t result in your DUI conviction automatically being reversed. Even after you convince a judge that there was a legal error, you still need to show that the mistake was instrumental in the outcome in your case. For instance:

Example #1

You discovered that the prosecutor is close friends with the police officer that arrested you and testified at your DUI trial. The prosecution often gives the officer extravagant gifts under circumstances that suggest payment for the officer’s testimony. However, the jury also heard evidence that your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was over the legal limit, according to an official breathalyzer test and a blood test. Though there may have been prosecutorial misconduct, there was still enough evidence to convict you on DUI charges.

Example #2

At trial, the prosecution introduced BAC test results showing that you were over the legal limit. Your criminal defense attorney objected on the grounds that the breathalyzer test was administered by an individual who had no training, so the results weren’t accurate. The judge allowed the false BAC test, which was the only evidence presented by the prosecutor.

Contact a Los Angeles Appeals Lawyer for Help

Though this overview of DUI appeals in California may be helpful, it’s no substitute for the assistance an experienced lawyer can provide. For more information on your appeals options, call Spolin Law P.C. right away to schedule a free case consultation. You can reach our firm by calling at (310) 424-5816, or via our website.


Will I Have to Serve Time for a California DUI Conviction?

Posted on Wednesday, October 24th, 2018 at 8:12 am    

Being convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) can be a daunting situation for anyone. After being found guilty, you likely have many questions. You may wonder if and when you can get your license back. You may have concerns about how much you’ll have to pay in fines. The number one question most people have is whether they’ll face incarceration after a conviction. The law sets the maximum and minimum penalties you can receive for your offense. What your actual sentence is will depend on a number of factors.

A Los Angeles DUI lawyer will explain the possible sentences you can face for a DUI conviction. If you or a loved one has been convicted of a DUI in California, contact Spolin Law P.C. as soon as possible. Our attorneys have a wealth of experience dealing with DUI law. Contact us today at (310) 424-5816, or reach out via our online form to schedule a free and confidential case consultation.

Several Factors Can Impact Your Sentence

The sentence you receive for a DUI in California will depend on the circumstances that surround your conviction. Some of the factors may suggest that you deserve a lighter sentence. These are known as mitigating factors. Aggravating factors, however, will suggest that you deserve a harsher penalty.

In some cases, the prosecutor may offer you a plea bargain. This involves pleading guilty in exchange for a lesser punishment. The aggravating and mitigating factors of your situation will also play a large role in plea bargain negotiations.

What are Mitigating Factors?

When examining mitigating factors, the prosecution will be looking for reasons you deserve a lighter sentence. For example, if you were intoxicated by a medication that was legally prescribed to you, this could be a mitigating factor. Other factors that may reduce your penalties are:

  • Your blood alcohol content (BAC) being only slightly above the legal limit
  • Voluntary completion of a counseling or substance abuse program
  • Whether you are gainfully employed

Aggravating Factors in a DUI Case

By contrast, aggravating factors tell the court that you deserve a harsher sentence. Many times, the most aggravating factor is having multiple DUI convictions on your record. A criminal record of any kind can signal to the court that you do not deserve leniency. Other circumstances can increase your punishment, including:

  • Having a BAC drastically over the legal limit
  • Driving recklessly
  • Driving excessively over the speed limit
  • Driving with a revoked or suspended license

Possible Penalties for Your First California DUI Conviction

The minimum and maximum penalties for your DUI conviction will depend largely on your prior record. For your first DUI offense, California law allows a possible sentence of between 48 hours and six months in jail. If a judge orders probation, however, you are not required to serve any jail time. In general, judges are inclined to be lenient with first-time offenders. Each case, however, is unique. Your sentence will depend on factors like the ones discussed above.

Potential Jail Time Increases With a Second DUI Conviction

If you’re convicted of a second DUI, California law does prescribe jail time. The sentence for a second DUI conviction in California is up to one year in jail. However, there are several ways that you might avoid serving any term of incarceration. Depending on your circumstances, the judge may allow you to serve your sentence on house arrest. Alternatively, you could go through a work program rather than going to jail.

Penalties for a Third DUI

You will likely have to serve some jail time upon your third California DUI conviction. The penalty for a third DUI in the state is between 120 days and one year in jail.

Facing a DUI Conviction in California? Contact Us Today for Help

Your DUI sentence can be affected by any number of details. If you’re facing a conviction, you should enlist the help of a skilled DUI lawyer to explain how the law applies to you specifically. An attorney from Spolin Law P.C. can help determine what factors will affect your sentencing, how severe your sentence is likely to be, and if/how there is any chance of getting your sentence reduced.

To schedule a free, initial evaluation of your case, contact us today at (310) 424-5816.