A DUI – which is a certain type of criminal case – begins in California court when the prosecuting attorney – the District Attorney, City Attorney or City Prosecutor – files a case in court against someone for committing a crime against the State of California. If you are found guilty of a crime, you face paying fines, probation, jail and/or prison.
An infraction is a minor violation. Many traffic violations are infractions. The punishment for infractions is usually a fine, and if you pay the fine, there is no jail time.
A misdemeanor is a crime with a maximum punishment of either 6 months or 1 year in a county jail, and/or a $1,000 fine. Some examples are: assault, battery, driving on a suspended license, trespass, drunk in public, disorderly conduct, domestic violence, petty theft, prostitution, shoplifting, solicitation of prostitution, vandalism, violation of protective order, and DUI.
A felony is the most serious kind of crime. California also has a list of serious felonies and violent felonies. If found guilty, you can be sent to county jail and/or state prison. Some examples are: arson, assault with a deadly weapon or instrument on a peace officer, carjacking, extortion, embezzlement, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, kidnapping, robbery or bank robbery, murder, voluntary manslaughter, lewd or lascivious act on a child under 14 years of age, mayhem, rape, oral copulation, sexual penetration, DUI causing injury and DUI with 3 prior offenses within 10 years.
A wobbler is a crime that may be punished as either a misdemeanor or felony. Some examples are: assault with a deadly weapon, sexual battery, theft, spousal battery, domestic violence cases, burglary, drug cases, and DUI causing injury.
Of the many federal crimes some examples are bank robbery, fraudulent activity affecting interstate commerce, narcotics, wire fraud, mail fraud or tax fraud, any crime in which the United States is defrauded, guns, environmental crimes, and civil rights violations. Some crimes may violate both California and federal laws, such as bank robbery or child pornography. In these cases, the local U.S. Attorney’s Office works with state and local law enforcement officials to decide whether the case will be brought in federal or state court.
The usual way of showing proof of financial responsibility is to provide a California Insurance Proof Certificate (form SR-22) from an insurance company.
The amount of bail is set by a bail schedule in each county. If you fail to appear in court, your bail will be lost and a new warrant will be issued for your arrest. If you cannot post bail, you will be kept in custody. In some cases, instead of paying bail, you might be released on your own recognizance or “O.R.” Your criminal defense lawyer or DUI attorney can make a motion for bail reduction or bail review in court.
You learn what charges the prosecutor has filed against you. You may enter a plea to the criminal charges filed against you. If you have been arrested, you have the right to be arraigned on any charges usually within two court days. At the arraignment, you can plead guilty, no contest, or not guilty, or waive time to enter a plea. Plea negotiations can also take place at the arraignment.
There are many defenses and ways to reduce or dismiss DUI or criminal charges. If you’re considering not hiring a really good criminal defense DUI attorney with a lot of experience, or thinking about choosing a lawyer who dabbles in DUIs, you should think about it some more.
There are two types of restricted licenses currently. There is an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) restricted license. The IID restricted license does not require you to serve any suspension or revocation period. There is also the work/dui program restricted license. This type allows you to drive to and from work, during the course of your work, and to and from activities required in the driving-under-the-influence program.