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Santa Cruz criminal law attorney arrest rights

Getting arrested is stressful for anyone. An arrest may come unexpectedly, and you may be unsure about how to act. Regardless of the alleged offense for which you are being arrested, you continue to have rights after being detained. By understanding these rights, you can keep yourself safe and ensure that you are able to defend against any criminal charges resulting from the arrest. 

Your Rights During an Arrest

When being arrested, you have the right to remain silent. You can exercise this right at any time, but there are only specific circumstances where a police officer is required to state this right. Miranda rights are only given when a person is in custody and will be interrogated. If these rights are not read during an arrest, they should be read before the interrogation. The Miranda admonition states that you have the right to remain silent, that anything you say can be used against you, that you have the right to an attorney, and that you have the right to a court-appointed attorney if you cannot afford to hire an attorney. If you intend to stay silent until a lawyer is present, you can (and should) make that verbally clear to the arresting officer. If you cannot afford a lawyer, the state must provide one for you. Here in Santa Cruz, we have excellent state appointed attorneys, also known as public defenders. 

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Santa Cruz DUI defense attorney

No matter if you are a first time or repeat offender, getting charged with a DUI will have a huge impact on your life. How much it will affect you depends on the circumstances surrounding your arrest, such as who was in the car, any prior convictions, and whether any others were injured or killed as a result of driving while intoxicated. Even in cases without circumstances that would increase the charges, a DUI can lead to a license suspension, jail time (often, though not always, served in an “alternative to custody” program), and fines. 

When an officer pulls you over, they may have a suspicion that you were driving while intoxicated. However, even if you are pulled over for another traffic offense, such as speeding, you can still be arrested for DUI if the officer has probable cause to make an arrest that you are under the influence. An officer may determine probable cause by talking with you, observing you, conducting field sobriety tests, and/or administering a portable breath test. 

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Santa Cruz CA criminal defense attorney DUI marijuana chargesSanta Cruz County residents should be aware of three changes in California criminal law that took effect on January 1, 2019. These changes affect people with past marijuana convictions, juvenile offenders under age 16, and DUI offenders.

Past Marijuana Sentences Will Be Dismissed or Reduced

The Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), which took effect on November 9, 2016, decriminalized or downgraded many marijuana-related offenses. AUMA specifically authorized application of the new, more lenient criminal laws retroactively. AB-1793, “Cannabis convictions: resentencing,” directs the California Department of Justice to identify all old cases where a person was convicted of a marijuana offense that is no longer a crime or has been downgraded in severity. 

Minor offenses will be marked for expungement, which completely clears the offense from a person’s criminal record. For crimes which have been downgraded (e.g., from a felony to a misdemeanor), sentences will be reduced appropriately. If no objection from prosecutors is received by July 2020, these changes will automatically be made. This law relieves individuals from the burden of having to file a court petition to request expungement or resentencing. 

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Protecting Against the Use of Deceptive Practices By Law Enforcement

Santa Cruz criminal defense lawyerPolice officers may not take or search property without just cause, nor can they force anyone to testify against themselves. These laws, along with many others, protect the public from becoming victims of an increasingly powerful justice system, and they place a burden on the shoulders of the police department to complete the investigative steps that are necessary for learning the truth of a particular incident. Unfortunately, myriad excuses exist as to why many law enforcement officials continually fail to meet their requirements and protect citizens’ rights. Instead of putting in the time and effort to obtain their information ethically, many cops use deceptive practices during a criminal investigation.

At a Traffic Stop

One of the most common questions a police officer asks after pulling a driver over is, “Do you know why I stopped you?” This question is not an attempt at polite conversation or a way to "break the ice." The officer hopes the driver will voluntarily confess to a crime, and not necessarily the alleged offense which caused them to pull the driver over in the first place. Additionally, officers frequently stop drivers under the pretense of warning them of a “blown tail light” or other alternate non-moving violation. During this type of “good samaritan” stop, if any evidence presents itself, such as the odor of alcohol which may be indicative of a DUI, an officer will happily use it to their advantage.

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Posted on in Criminal Defense

Santa Cruz DUI defense attorneyA “wet reckless” is the only crime in the Penal Code for which one cannot be arrested. Over an inch and a half thick, the Vehicle Code (not the Penal Code, which metes out punishments for yet other crimes) proscribes everything from no front license plate to vehicular homicide. Yet a “wet reckless” exists only as a tool to plea bargain DUI cases - it is not a crime one can commit unless one agrees to the prosecutor and judge using it to amend a complaint alleging a DUI case.

Specifically, allowing the complaint to be amended from a VC 23152 to a VC 23103 per 23103.5. Vehicle Code section 23103 makes reckless driving unlawful; adding the 23103.5 means it was reckless “with alcohol involved.” The big difference between a 23103 (mere reckless, or “dry reckless”) and a 23103 per 23103.5 (wet reckless) is that a wet reckless can be used against you as a prior should you be arrested and convicted of a DUI in the future. 

For many people, a wet reckless is viewed as a huge win. For others, it is viewed as no big deal (or even capitulating to a loss). Realistically, whether it is good in a certain case depends on the facts of that case and the individual accused. It does not directly lead to a license suspension, which for some saves a job. Still others don’t need a license, or don’t care about their right to drive (think folks who live in San Francisco, folks who have a driver, folks who are leaving the country, etc.). In most cases, it is only the first step in trying to save driving privileges, as the DMV has a separate process where they will try to suspend one’s driving privilege - but if one’s ability to drive is paramount, it could be an important first step. There are also reduced fines, classes, and “jail” time (put in quotes as very few, if any, folks go to actual jail for a first offense DUI conviction these days).

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