People often ask us here at TrafficCourtPros.com if they need an Attorney for their DUI case. Most people think their DUI case is simple, and not worth the expense of a defense Attorney. But in a criminal case, what you dont know can hurt you, and without an attorney you dont know what you dont know.
Here is a true example of how not having an Attorney hurt one poor soul recently in Monetery County:
A defendant was appearing for an Arraignment, which is the first court date in most criminal cases. The Defendant was charged with driving while intoxicated. He was actually charged with 2 separate, overlapping charges (Vehicle Code section 23152a and VC 23152b). It appeared to me that the Defendant had a complete defense to at least the “B” count because the field breath test by officers at the scene showed no alcohol in the Defendant’s blood. The officers arrested defendant anyway, suspecting drug use.
|At the Arraignment, defendant had no Attorney, and I watched as he struggled to understand what was going on. The results of a urine test were not yet available, and the judge suggested to the defendant that he plead “not guilty” and waive or “give up” his constitutional right to have a trial within 45 days.|
The judge suggested to the defendant that she may want to wait for the test results to come back before deciding what to do.
The judge’s motivation seemed obvious to me. He wanted more time for the test results to come back, to make it easier to convict the defendant. Without the test results, there was no evidence.
But what the judge didn’t tell the defendant that if he did not give up his right to a speedy trial, it was possible that the deadline for a trial might come up before the test results were available. If that happened, there would be no evidence against the Defendant, and it is likely that his case would be dismissed.
Of course, the judge did not tell the defendant there may be an advantage to not giving up a right to a speedy trial. And the Defendant did not have the experience or training to recognize that problem in the prosecution’s case.
A good Defense Attorney would have seen it instantly. The diligent Defense Attorney would counsel and advise the Defendant that giving up any rights should only be done with extreme caution. They would explain why a speedy trial might result in less evidence, and would explain why there were 2 overlapping charges.
In this example, forcing a quick trial was definitely in the Defendant’s best interest. But he didn’t know it and waived his right to a speedy trial, alone, without help.