Archive for the ‘Sentencing Alternatives’ Category

Getting An Ignition Interlock Device In California

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

If you have been convicted of a DUI in Vista, you may be ordered to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. This is particularly true if you have been convicted of driving on a suspended license that was originally revoked due to a DUI.

These devices are similar to breathalyzers in that they use your breath to detect the amount of alcohol in your system. The difference is that these devices aren’t only used when police suspect you may be driving while inebriated, but instead must be used every time you wish to operate your vehicle.

When an ignition interlock device is installed on your vehicle, you will be required to provide a breath sample every time you want to start your car. If you have any alcohol in your system, the car will not start. After the car is running, you will be required to provide another breath sample at a randomly chosen point in time. This is required to prevent an intoxicated driver from simply asking someone else to breathe into the machine.

If the driver tests positive on this second test or refuses to offer a breath sample, this will be recorded and the machine will cause the car to start flashing its lights and honking its horn until the vehicle is brought to a complete stop.

If you have been ordered to install an interlock device on your vehicle, you will be held responsible for the cost of the initial installation, as well as the cost of having the device maintained every sixty days as required by law.

While these devices can be a bit of a hassle, they are still a better option than being unable to drive your vehicle at all. On a second and third DUI conviction, you will be required to install an  interlock device before getting your license back.  The good news is that this law has shortened the suspension period and allow you to drive for work and the DUI program.

In some counties, you are required to install an interlock device on your first DUI.

If you would like to find out if installing an ignition interlock device could help you get back on the road, please speak with experienced DUI lawyers. Vista courts are open to this idea, but will not agree to work with you on your own. You will first need to converse with a Vista DUI attorney like Peter M. Liss.

Alternatively, if you have been ordered to install an interlock device and do not think you should be subjected to such penalties, please call a legal representative from our office at (760) 643-4050 to discuss your options as soon as possible.

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Better Understanding The Criminal Process In California -Part IV

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

This is the final part of our four part series on the California criminal process.  In the last chapter, we will cover what happens after you are convicted or plead guilty, including the sentencing, post-conviction, modifications & reductions and expungement stages of the process.

Sentencing

If you plead guilty or the jury convicts you, you will then be sentenced for the crime. In misdemeanor cases, this usually occurs at the time your case is settled or at the trial. You may be placed on probation, sentenced to jail time and/or be ordered to pay a fine.

In felony cases, the sentencing hearing is scheduled approximately 30 days after the trial or case settlement so the probation department can prepare a report to provide a recommendation to the judge. At the hearing, your Vista criminal attorney will argue for the lowest possible punishment while the prosecution will generally argue for a higher sentence. If you plead guilty, then your maximum sentence may already be agreed upon by the prosecution or judge. In some cases, the exact sentence may already be agreed upon as a condition of the plea bargain. This is known as a stipulated sentence. If you were found guilty at the trial, then no plea agreement has been put in place and you could receive the maximum sentence for the crime you have been convicted of.

Felony punishments can range from formal probation to jail time to a stay in state prison. Occasionally, you may receive a sentencing alternative such as a residential drug treatment program, counseling, work furlough or community service. These programs often require an extra push from your criminal attorneys. Vista judges currently are hesitant to offer house arrest and electronic monitoring as incarceration options, but this may change in the near future as jails and prisons become increasingly overcrowded.

The judge has a wide variety of options when it comes to sentencing and in most cases, the sentence cannot be appealed unless it is considered unreasonable when compared with the severity of the crime.

Post-Conviction

After you have been convicted, you may appeal your case or withdraw your guilty plea and motion for a new trial. In many cases, this occurs when a defendant was not adequately informed by his or her lawyer about the consequences of a guilty plea. In other cases, this may take place when the trial was based upon errors or violations of civil rights including exclusion of evidence, misconduct on the part of the prosecution, improper instructions being given to the jury, denial of due process, etc.

Modifications and Reductions

If you have complied with your prohibition for a lengthy period of time and then become unable to fulfill a condition of the sentence due to a change in your circumstance, your Vista defense attorney can request the judge to modify your probation. In some cases, the judge may even be willing to terminate your probation. Your lawyer may also be able to petition the judge to reduce your felony conviction to a misdemeanor if your have completed your probation.

Expungements

If you have already completed your probation, you may qualify for an expungement, which will allow you to have the criminal offense removed from your record. This can be particularly helpful for those seeking employment or housing, as persons performing a background check on you will no longer know you were convicted of a crime.

In rare circumstances, a judge may even be willing to terminate your probation early and expunge your conviction.

If you haven’t already caught the previous sections of this series, be sure to read Better Understanding The Criminal Process In California, parts I, II and III. If you have been charged with a crime, please call Peter M. Liss at (760) 643-4050.

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Incarceration Alternatives In Vista, California

Monday, January 16th, 2012

In recent years, courts around the country have been offering an increasing number of alternatives to incarceration including home arrest and electronic surveillance options. Unfortunately, San Diego County is still hesitant to take advantage of these options in all but the most unusual cases.

This may soon change thanks to sentencing laws that have recently been enacted, allowing for many of those who were previously sentenced to state prison for non-violent crimes to serve their time in local jails instead. The sheriff has predicted that San Diego jails will be at capacity by spring of 2012, meaning local judges will eventually be forced to start offering more alternative sentencing options like electronic monitoring and house arrest. In the meantime, an aggressive Vista criminal attorney like Peter M. Liss may be able to secure these options for you depending on your specific circumstances, but more often, those who wish to find an alternative to prison or jail will be sentenced to a work furlough.

While the name “work furlough” can sound intimidating, reminiscent of the chain gangs of olden times, many people prefer this option because it allows you to live outside of a cell and to be able to see your family more frequently. In a work furlough program, you will spend your days working at your job and your nights living in a dormitory-style facility with other inmates assigned to the program.

It is important to note that not everyone will qualify for a work furlough program, particularly those who have been convicted of a serious or violent felony. The program is most often offered to those who have been convicted for drug crimes, but it can also be an option for those convicted of repeat DUI charges, domestic violence or other less-serious felony and misdemeanor crimes.

If you are facing misdemeanor or felony charges and want to discuss alternatives to incarceration, should you be convicted, please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation with a skilled Vista criminal lawyer.

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This may change soon with major changes in sentencing laws just enacted.  Many people who previously were sentenced to state prison will now serve local jail sentences instead for non-violent crimes.  The sheriff has predicted San Diego jails will be at capacity by spring of 2012.  Eventually, this will force local judges and the jail to consider alternatives like electronic monitoring or house arrest.  In the meantime, an aggressive ….