DUI Arrest – No Release

The lights remain turned on twenty four hours a day. There is always activity, with some prisoners coming in, and others leaving for release on bail or court appearance.

About 5:00 AM every morning, those prisoners scheduled to appear in arraignment court are once again herded back on the “bus” and driven to the various destinations. You might arrive at the court house by 8:00 AM without having had breakfast, smelling like a dung heap, and looking like you fell out of a garbage can. You will be held in the courthouse holding cells, until court convenes and your case is brought to the attention of the magistrate by the Assistant District Attorney.

You are ready to state your plea. Your legal system is at work, and the wheels of justice turn. It is a tournament between all the People vs. you. The combined resources of the State and its component parts has engaged you in legal conflict. Who do you think is going to win?

Defense of a misdemeanor violation (D.U.I.) under the Motor Vehicle Code is an improbability for most, who cannot or are reluc-tant to afford the costs of an Attorney and “expert witness” fees. Prosecution by the State, on the other hand is a process unhindered by economic hardship. The People of the State are prepared to proceed with a costly trial by Judge or Jury. Not for the spoils of a maximum five hundred dollar fine for first offenders, but more importantly because it is hoped that a trial and conviction will act as a deterrent to the repetition of the crime by not only the accused, but society at large.

The implied threat of trial and possible convicton is also the very foundation of the expedient process of “plea bargaining” without which the court system could not survive. There is just not enough time, or courtrooms and judges to administer justice by trial, and because the court calendars are so crowded, the plea bargain arrangement by prosecutor and defense attorney has become in most instances the invaluable method of obtaining a disposition of the charge or charges.

The system is not as complex as it is one sided. It sometimes will seem foolhardy to a defendant of low or middle income to spend a possible $3000 in defense of a misdemeanor, which at best in a verdict of Not Guilty can save a maximum fine of $500.00 and a two year probation. It is for this reason that entering a plea of guilty to a lesser charge has become an attractive alternative to most defendants regardless of the degree of innocence or guilt they may possess.

A classic example of the futility in defending D.U.I, indictments is the recent case which went to trial in Los Angeles, California. It concerned a member of the Los Angeles City Council who was arrested, booked and charged with misdemeanor D.U.I, and was offered a plea bargain arrangement, which he refused. Instead he entered a plea of Not Guilty and came to trial some six months later. As a public figure, the prime motivation of this defendant was the preservation of his good name, reputation and career as a public servant.

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