Blog

CALL US FOR A FREE CONSULTATION

Call Us831-426-5800

Call Us831-566-4357

303 Potrero Street, Suite 30
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

The Department of Motor Vehicles will reopen all of its field offices on Thursday, easing the angst of thousands of drivers with expired licenses who have been unable to schedule appointments because of overloaded phone lines or closed offices.

All 169 field offices, opening for the first time since they were shut down at the end of March to prevent the spread of COVID-19, will be able to assist those with current appointments at a specific office and limited transactions that require an in-person visit.

“Fantastic,” said Cathy Meadows of San Jose, whose license expired May 8. “I still need to drive, at least, to and from the grocery store.”

...

Santa Cruz criminal defense attorney public defenderIn California, when you are charged with a crime, you are entitled to have an attorney represent you in court. This can be a retained (hired) attorney, one whom you pay to go to court (and DMV) for you and help you wind your way through an often confusing situation. If you cannot afford to hire an attorney, you are not at all out of luck. The system provides criminal defense attorneys to help folks who cannot afford to hire private counsel, known as public defenders. Here in Santa Cruz, the public defenders are outstanding advocates for their clients. One often hears negative comments about public defenders in general - “just a government attorney,” “public pretender,” and “just another part of the system.” I can’t speak to areas where I don’t practice, but I can speak to the system in Santa Cruz, as I’ve been involved in it for over 30 years. The public defenders here are dedicated, intelligent, hard-working attorneys who zealously represent their clients. In short: they are outstanding attorneys. 

To see if you qualify for a public defender, you can go to court on your arraignment date and wait until the judge calls your case. You can request the judge appoint a public defender. Typically, a judge will either ask you to fill out a financial form, or he or she could simply question you about your financial situation. The judge then makes a determination as to whether you could afford to retain a private attorney. If the judge thinks you can afford to do so, he or she will give you time to hire an attorney. If the judge believes you cannot afford to hire a private attorney, a public defender will be appointed right then and there. There are public defenders staffing all of the criminal courtroom departments in Santa Cruz. If the judge appoints a public defender to represent you here in Santa Cruz, you are quite likely getting not just good, but extremely good representation.

One note for DUI offenders: your court date is usually 30 or more days after arrest, and the way our system is currently set up, you cannot apply for a public defender until you get to court. Meanwhile, there is usually a separate administrative action (separate from the court case) at DMV that started upon your arrest. If you don’t call DMV within 10 days of your arrest to set up an administrative hearing, DMV will automatically suspend your license. If you want to challenge the suspension of your license by DMV, you will need to make that call yourself (or have a lawyer do so) within those 10 days. The correct DMV number for a Santa Cruz DUI case is ironically a San Jose number: 408-229-7100. The hearing the DMV sets up is separate from the court date, and will likely be after the court date.

...

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. 

...

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. 

...

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. 

...
Back to Top