Articles Posted in Sentencing

A conviction for DUI can carry long lasting effects on a person’s life and for this reason, it is important for anyone facing a DUI conviction, to have experienced legal representation. A good Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney, who has expertise in DUI arrests, will make every effort to have the charges reduced and/or dismissed. A key factor in choosing an attorney is to look for an attorney who is familiar with the Court in which the case is pending, as well as the other Courts in Orange County. A good relationship with the Judges, District Attorneys, Court Clerks and other personnel can influence a positive outcome and ensure that you get the best possible result.

The following are standard penalties associated with a conviction for driving under the influence or DUI, in Orange County, California:

DUI 1st Offense: Jail time (up to 6 months); fines (up to$1,000.00); community service; probation; DUI School; and driver’s license suspension.

DUI 2nd Offense: Jail time (up to a year); fines (up to $1,000.00); community service; probation; DUI School; driver’s license suspension; and vehicle impoundment.

DUI 3rd Offense: Jail time (up to a year); fines (up to $2,000.00); community service; probation; DUI School; driver’s license suspension; and vehicle impoundment.

In California we have what is called Sentence Enhancements. What this means is that if convicted of DUI, under certain circumstances the Court can impose a greater penalty. Those circumstances include: 1) Prior Convictions – If convicted of a DUI within the last ten years, jail time, DUI school and license suspension periods are increased. Two priors within ten years results in even further penalty increases and if you have three or more, you will be charged with felony DUI; 2) High Blood Alcohol Level: A BAC level of .15 or higher, results in an enhanced sentence; 3) Test Refusall: There are two consequences to refusing to take a chemical test. The amount of jail time is increased and the DMV will impose their administrative suspension of your driving privilege; 4) Speeding and/or Reckless Driving: At the time of arrest, a sentence enhancement will be imposed for 20 mph over the speed limit on a surface street and 30 mph over the limit on a freeway.

An experienced DUI Defense Attorney will look closely at the police report and at the conduct of the investigating officers. Specifically, any misconduct or violation of rights must be taken into consideration. Further, if a field sobriety test was performed, and this is what the arrest was based on, it should be challenged due to the fact that field sobriety tests are subjective, basically the opinion of the officer performing the test. If a roadside Breathalyzerr is used, this must also be looked at carefully as the results are unreliable and there are too many ways to skew the results. The law does require that anyone being arrested for suspicion of DUI must take a chemical test. Blood or breath, at the police station, are the two choices. However, there is no legal obligation for anyone to perform a field sobriety test. If a breath test was used at the police station, the maintenance logs of the breath machine need to be examined. If blood was taken, the attorney may want to employ the services of an expert to perform a “Blood Split”, which can help determine the blood alcohol level at the time of the stop rather than at the time the blood was taken. This can sometimes result in a lower blood alcohol level.

Anyone who has been arrested for DUI, Driving Under the Influence or Drunk Driving, needs an attorney who is skilled and will gather the appropriate evidence, know how to use it intelligently and efficiently, and render the best possible outcome for their client.

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A 29 year old Santa Ana man was convicted of vehicular manslaughter after an accident he caused resulted in the death of another Orange County man. The 29 year old man, who has a prior DUI conviction, was intoxicated when his vehicle ran out of gas on the freeway, causing a three-car collision. His blood alcohol level was 0.20, approximately two hours after the accident, which is about two and a half times the legal limit.

Vehicular Manslaughter, while intoxicated, is a felony punishable up to 10 years in State Prison. However, this Orange County man received the more severe sentence of 13 years in State Prison due to some specific circumstances. In California, we have what is known as DUI Sentence Enhancements. This means that his sentence will be increased, depending upon the enchancement(s). Sentence enhancements in DUI cases include, prior convictions, a blood alcohol level of .15 or higher, test refusal and speeding and/or reckless dirving. In this case, the defendant had a prior conviction of DUI, a blood alcohol of .20 and what may have been considered reckless driving for allowing his vehicle to run out of gas in the middle of the freeway. Therefore, enhancements were imposed.

Fortunately, there are defenses to Felony DUI, or Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated. In this situation, a good Orange County DUI Attorney should have looked at the possible defenses to vehicular manslaughter. Challenging the validity of the breath or blood test results, as well as challenging police procedures and/or misconduct must always be looked at. Some other defenses to Vehicular Manslaughter while Intoxicated include: Rather than gross negligence, that the defendant acted with regular negligence; That the negligence what not wat caused the death. That the acts of another person or forces beyond your control such as road conditions or weather were the cause of the accident and/or death. Accident Reconstruction Experts are often used when this type of defense is being offered.

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Tommy Vincente Valenzuela was driving drunk in February 14, 2008. He failed to stop at a stop sign in Bakersfield and lost control of his vehicle. His vehicle crashed into another one, killing a passenger named Lila Aranda. He tried to run from the scene but was stopped, arrested and charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while driving drunk with prior drunken driving convictions. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison for this incident.

In 2004, Valenzuela was charged with another hit-and-run accident that killed Jorge Pruneda Benavides. Investigators could not find proof that he was intoxicated at the time of that accident. Besides that accident, he had three DUI convictions from 1999, 2001 and 2003. It is likely that Valenzuela has an alcohol problem and will need alcohol education classes along with his prison sentence. Hopefully, after serving time and taking classes, Valenzuela will never drive drunk again.

Whether you live in Newport Beach, Orange or Brea, if you are charged with DUI manslaughter, call an experienced DUI defense attorney right away to assist you.

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In June of last year, a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputy was driving his county issued Chevrolet SUV in the middle of the night, while under the influence of alcohol. Deputy Robert Andrew Moran crashed his car into another car at the intersection of Beach Boulevard and Garden Grove, injuring the driver and passenger of that car. He was charged with driving under the influence causing injury and driving under the influence with a blood alcohol level of about a .08%. He plead no contest to these misdemeanor charges and, this week, was sentenced to home confinement for six months. Additionally, he was put on probation for 3 years and required to enroll in a three-month DUI first offender program. He was placed on unpaid leave from the Sheriff’s department after the incident, but will seek reinstatement after confinement is over.

Normally, the punishment for a first time DUI includes: fees, probation and alcohol education classes. It seems that Moran was punished quite severely for a first time DUI offense in that he also was given home confinement. It is likely that the District Attorney wanted to prove that everyone gets punished for violating laws, including officers. Whether you live in Santa Ana, Aliso Viejo or Laguna Beach, if you are charged with a DUI, you will need an experienced DUI defense attorney to assist you.

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As I mentioned before, Lynette Ann Hunt was found guilty of 2 counts of DUI vehicular manslaughter for a crash that occurred in July of 2008. Hunt had been drinking at a friend’s party and still decided to drive her friends home with a blood alcohol level of .15%. The car skidded off the road and her two friends, Vanessa Herrada and Maria Zamarripa, were killed immediately. After being found guilty in August of the manslaughter charges, last week the judge announced that she would be facing 6 years in custody for her actions.

It is unfortunate that Hunt decided to drive that night, while so heavily intoxicated. Even though she had no intentions of killing her friends, a drunk driver assumes the risk of being held liable if something should happen while driving. For her bad decisions, she has to spend 6 years in prison, thinking about her actions. Besides prison, Hunt will likely be on probation after release and have to take alcohol classes. Whether you live in Laguna Niguel, Santa Ana or Orange, if you are charged with DUI manslaughter, you will need an experienced DUI defense attorney to assist you.

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Ruperto Lopez Rojo was sentenced to 1 year in jail and 5 years of probation for vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving under the influence with great bodily injury. In 2008, Rojo was driving his Mustang with passenger Pablo Macias. Rojo was so drunk that he was driving on the wrong side of the road. He saw oncoming traffic and suddenly veered off the road and crashed. Macias was killed instantly and Rojo sustained injuries. Rojo could have received 17 years for this crime, but instead the judge took his age, remorse and criminal history into account and sentenced him to just one year in jail. After serving his time in jail, Rojo will be deported since he is an illegal immigrant.

Many illegal immigrants are charged with crimes. If they commit a violent felony, they may be deported back to their country of origin. It has been found that once someone is deported, they are more likely to commit a crime when they come back to the U.S.

Rojo was lucky to get such a minor sentence for vehicular manslaughter. A good DUI defense attorney may be able to lower your sentence if you are charged with a DUI. Whether you live in Santa Ana, Orange or Laguna Beach, if you are charged with a DUI, call an experienced DUI defense attorney to assist you.

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After drinking four Crown Royal and colas, two patron tequila shots and three Jagermeister bombs earlier that evening, Yanira Ramirez was very drunk. However, she still managed to get into her car on November 30, 2007. Unfortunately for Pauline Portes, Ramirez was so drunk that she drove the wrong way on the 55 (Costa Mesa) freeway, crashing into Portes and killing her. Portes’ boyfriend, Nguyen, was driving when the crash occurred and was injured.

Ramirez is a single mom of a 5 and 9 year old. She has no criminal past. She said she made a poor decision when she decided to drive home that night and will now be facing 10 years in prison for vehicular manslaughter. It just takes one poor decision to end a life. Regardless if you live in Irvine, Anaheim, Fullerton or Westminster, drinking and driving is a serious offense.

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CBS 13 is reporting that the Linda, California man who killed a family of six in a drunk driving accident in September, 2006 has been sentenced to 60 years to life in prison today.

Bradley Bledsoe was arrested in September of 2006 outside his home after fleeing the scene of the crash that killed six people from one family. A report by the California Highway Patrol said Bledsoe was driving his SUV on Highway 70 south of Marysville when he rear-ended the family’s SUV, causing it to spin and slam into a tree.

Bledsoe was charged and convicted of six counts of second-degree murder, hit and run, DUI and driving with a restricted license.

It is a crime to drive a car in California with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. It is also illegal to drive a car while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. If you cause an accident while you are DUI and someone is seriously injured or killed you can face felony charges including vehicular manslaughter.

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