Articles Tagged with citations

alcohol-1342726-mThis post is the first in a two part series that discusses the consequences of a DC DUI or DWI conviction.  As I have discussed in previous posts, DUI’s in the District of Columbia are heavily enforced and aggressively prosecuted.  A first time DUI offense in the District of Columbia is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 180 days in jail and/or a $1,000.00 fine.  While it is a misdemeanor (as opposed to a more serious felony), the consequences of a DUI conviction can be far reaching.

Because of the serious consequences, it is important that anyone charged with a DC DUI hire an experienced and aggressive DUI lawyer.

This post will discuss some of the main consequences that are common to all DC DUI convictions.  Some people may suffer additional specific consequences unique to their own situation.  For example, a specific employer could find out about the conviction and terminate the individual’s job or an individual could suffer serious family problems as a result.  However, this post will discuss consequences that apply to everyone.

This blog is the second post in a two part series that sets out to answer some of the frequently asked questions for DC DUI arrests.

What will happen to my driver’s license if I am arrested for DUI or DWI in DC?

The answer to this questions depends on whether you have a DC driver’s license or an out of state license.  First and foremost, if you have a DC driver’s license and you get arrested for DUI or DWI, you can lose your license just for the arrest.  Its important to request a hearing with the DC Department of Motor Vehicles (or “DMV”) within ten business days of your arrest.  Doing that will stop the license suspension from taking effect.  It will then be up to a hearing examiner at DMV to decide whether to suspend the license or not based on the testimony of the arresting officer.  At the very least, requesting the hearing will at least postpone the license suspension.  If convicted for DUI, you can lose your DC license for six months to one year.

And what if I have an out of state license?

People with an out of state license who get arrested in DC for a DUI or DWI have fifteen calendar days to request a hearing.  Its important to request that hearing even with an out of state license because the person arrested can lose their driving privileges in DC.  What that means is even if you have a valid out of state license, if you get pulled over in DC, you could be arrested for Operating after Suspension (or “OAS”).  OAS itself is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and/or a five thousand dollar fine.  Depending on your home state laws and regulations, you could also lose your license.  If convicted for DUI, most out of state DMV’s will suspend the person’s license as well.  Most times it depends on whether the appropriate paperwork gets sent from DC to the out of state DMV.

The police never read me my rights, can I get my case dismissed?

Even if the police officers do not read you your rights, the government can still prosecute you for any crime.  Police officers are supposed to advise people of their rights upon making an arrest.  If they fail to do so, and they elicit incriminating information from someone who is in custody, there may be a remedy at trial.  The potential remedy would be having  your DC DUI and DWI lawyer file a motion to suppress any statements.  If the motion is successful, then the government could not use the statements made while in custody against you.

What should I look for in selecting a DC DUI and DWI lawyer?

The consequences for a DUI conviction can involve jail, probation, fines, loss of driving privileges as well as a number of other collateral consequences including exorbitant insurance premiums.  Accordingly, its important you look for a DC DUI lawyer with experience trying cases in DC Superior Court who is familiar with the process and the players, including judges and prosecutors.  Its important to have someone who will focus on your case and be responsive to your questions and concerns.  These cases mostly follow similar patterns and an experienced DUI lawyer can typically give you a range of possible outcomes from best case to worst case scenario.  Finally, you want a DUI lawyer who will fight to protect your rights.

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This posting is the first in a three part series that seeks to answer some of the many questions people have regarding DC DUI arrests.  This post, like all posts, is not intended to serve as legal advice and is for educational purposes only.

Do I have to blow into the breath machine?

This question is complicated, but the short answer is no.  However, if you refuse to blow into the breathalyzer or submit to a urine or blood sample, the DC Department of Motor Vehicles can suspend your license for one year.  Although any arrest or conviction for DUI or DWI in DC can result in a loss of license for at least six months anyway.  The refusal may add another six months.  However, most DC DUI judges will give probation to first time offenders.  However, if your breath score is above a .20, then that triggers mandatory minimum jail time under the law.  That means even if the judge only wants you to give you probation, she must give you some mandatory minimum time.  The new law also prevents this time from being served on the weekends.  DUI is the only crime where the law literally requires you to incriminate yourself while police investigate you or be punished.

There are some days where the wastefulness in the criminal justice system makes me sick.  Last Wednesday, Novemberpolice-officer-1262266-m 7 was one of those days.  On the weekend of October 13, 2013, during the government shutdown, the Metropolitan Police Department conducted “Operation off the Streets 2.”  This operation, which probably cost the city millions of dollars in resources, resulted in the arrest of over 60 people in undercover prostitution operations.

Almost everyone arrested were first time offenders or people with very limited criminal history.  Almost everyone arrested was released on what’s called “citation release.”  That means the police released them at the station after booking them and gave them a citation to come to court at a future date.  That brings us to November 7—the day they set all 60 of these arrests for arraignment.  Some of them hired DC prostitution lawyers in advance others got court appointed attorneys on the day of arraignment.

All of these arrests occurred in a single police district, Third District, which encompasses Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights, the U St and 14th St Corridor, and downtown near Metro Center and McPherson Square.  In this “operation,” the police went out and created crime where crime didn’t exist then arrested folks so that they could boast how much crime they are fighting.

Of the sixty or so cases that came through arraignment on November 7, here is a typical fact pattern: intoxicated guy or guys walking from a bar downtown, a scantily dressed female (undercover cop) hollers at the guy to come talk, intoxicated guy obliges, undercover cop makes some vague innuendos or outright offers sex, intoxicated guy says ‘uh, ok.’  Arrest team comes out from the shadows and makes the arrest.

The beauty of these so-called “sting” operations is that, as a matter of routine, the undercover officer does not record the conversation.  I have a theory as to why undercover cops do not record conversations where the saying of actual specific words is what makes someone actually guilty of the specific crime and its not because MPD does not have the technology or resources to do something anyone with a cell phone can do.

Police invest a tremendous amount of resources into sting operations.  Think about the person hours alone: the undercover officer, the arrest team (usually 3 or 4 officers), the transport, the radio dispatch, the booking officer at the station, the property clerk who takes the arrestee’s property, etc.  In many of these cases, the police rented expensive hotel rooms at downtown hotels.  If a sting operation is not successful, then it’s a tremendous amount of resources wasted.  So, the undercover is under pressure to be successful.  What constitutes a successful operation?  If the target, says the magic words (in this case agrees to pay money for sex).

Why wouldn’t MPD want verifiable evidence that the target actually committed the crime?  My experience in defending these types of cases has been that the undercover simply arrests the person and writes in the report that the target said the magic words and committed the crime no matter what.  Without a recording, the undercover is both the person under pressure to conduct a successful operation and the sole person who judges whether the operation was successful.  Few cases actually end up in trial.  The ones that do are not jury demandable, so a Superior Court judge decides whether the undercover officer was truthful.  In other words: no recording, no accountability.

The ironic thing about this big operation that probably consumed millions of dollars in taxpayer resources is that the government will probably not get a single conviction out of it.  Like I said, most people arrested were first time offenders or people with limited criminal history.  I was in court and watched dozens of them enter deferred prosecution agreements.  So, hats off MPD, there will be an influx of embarrassed men and women doing community service in the city for the next four months.  Mission accomplished.

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Police CarIn Washington, DC, two separate agencies prosecute crimes.  The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia prosecutes felony cases and most misdemeanors.  In addition, the District of Columbia Office of the Attorney General prosecutes traffic crimes–most notably DUI’s.  When someone gets arrested, the arresting officers fills out a number of police reports.  Those reports are then sent to the prosecuting agency.  On any given day in Washington, DC, a specific, often unidentified, prosecutor will go through the reports and decides whether to bring criminal charges against the person arrested.  This process is referred to as “papering” a case.  When the “papering” prosecutor, decides that a particular arrest should not result in the government filing formal criminal charges against the person arrested, that arrest will be “no papered.”

If you get arrested in Washington, DC, and you go through DC Superior Court, and the court tells you that your case has been “no papered,” you should consider yourself very lucky.  That simply means that the government has declined to file charges against you despite your arrest.  Criminal defense lawyers in Washington, DC have no control whatsoever on this process.  The “papering” prosecutor may make this decision for any number of reasons all of which have nothing to do with anything a criminal lawyer may or may not do.  Some reasons include when the cops fill out their paperwork improperly.  Other reasons may be that its clear from the police report documents that the police clearly violated the person arrested’s constitutional rights or the prosecutor believes that even if everything in the police report is accurate, the government could not prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.  I have never heard or seen a scenario where the government tells the individual why their case was “no papered.”  If your case gets “no papered,” you should be happy you do not have to face criminal charges in Washington, DC.  Unfortunately, if you are arrested for DUI, there is almost no chance that the Office of the Attorney General will “no paper” your case.

If you are arrested in Washington, DC, you should consult with a criminal defense lawyer to ensure that your constitutional rights are protected.  Many people are released from the police station after an arrest and given a Citation to Appear in Court with a specific court date at which time you will find out whether your case is papered.  You should consult with a criminal defense lawyer before going to court.  The chances that your case will be “no papered” are usually pretty slim.  Therefore, its important to have a criminal defense lawyer who can help you mount a defense from the beginning of your case.  If you are one of the lucky ones, and your case is “no papered,” a Washington, DC criminal defense lawyer can advise you on how to get your arrested record expunged afterwards.  Otherwise, even though the government decided not file a formal case against you, you will continue to have an arrest record when employers and others do a background check.

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