What Kind of Fees Can I Expect with a DUI Charge?

Unfortunately, the cost of a DUI is very high.  This article will summarize some of the costs that you can anticipate, as well as give you helpful links to find out more.  Your attorney can also advise you on the costs to be anticipated, and can help you prepare for the road ahead.

  1. Impound Fees.  If your vehicle was impounded, you will be on the hook for administrative fees, plus the cost of towing and storage.  The administrative fee depends on where the vehicle was impounded, but for instance, the cost in Vacaville can be $234.  (See https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/dl/fees/miscdl_fees#misc_duireissue).  Also, be aware that the vehicle can only be released to the Registered Owner.  However, if the owner is incarcerated, then the jail can provide a Vehicle Release Form.
  2. Driver’s License Fees.  These vary depending on the age of the driver, and whether it is a first or second offense, but to give you an idea of the ballpark the Reissue Admin Fee for a Driver over 21, is $125.  This link will give you the specifics:  https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/dl/fees/miscdl_fees#misc_duireissue.
  3. Bail Fees.  If you have been incarcerated, you can anticipate a bail bonsdmen fee.  The way it works is that the court sets the bail.  The bonds company charges you a fee (usually a percentage of the amount of bail), and then the bonds company pays the full amount to the court.  When you appear at your hearing, the bonds company receives their money back, but they earned the fee.
  4. Court Fines.  These can run you at least $2,000.  According to the Yolo County Sentencing Guidelines for Infractions and Misdemeanors, Effective August 25, 2016, the minimum fine to be imposed for a DUI is $1958.  
  5. Other Miscellaneous Court Fines and Fees.   The Court will likely impose misc. fines and fees which total at least $300, depending on the jurisdiction.  See the excerpt below from the Yolo County Sentencing Guidelines for Infractions and Misdemeanors, Effective August 25, 2016.
  6. Screen Shot 2017-10-23 at 8.57.36 PMCounseling – The amount of counseling ordered and the cost of the classes varies, but a conservative estimate would be at least $200 for counseling and classes.
  7. Restitution – If the DUI involved an accident, the court may order restitution, which means that you will have to pay for the damages incurred by the other driver.
  8. Interlock  – An interlock device is placed in your car so that your breath alcohol level is checked before you can drive.  The cost can vary depending on the make and model of the vehicle and the company you choose.  One company surveyed charged a $60 installation fee and 69.95 plus tax per month.  
  9. Insurance – Automobile insurance rates are higher for those who have been convicted of a DUI.  To reinstate your license after a DUI, you will have to file a Proof of Insurance Certificate (SR-22).  These sites can give you more information about the insurance needed.  https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/?1dmy&urile=wcm:path:/dmv_content_en/dmv/pubs/brochures/fast_facts/ffdl35 

 

 

3 Essential Steps to Best Resolve a DUI Conviction

If you entered a guilty plea to a DUI or lost your case at trial, this article is for you.  It discusses what to do next once you have a DUI conviction.  Following these steps will help you succeed in completing your probation successfully and putting this conviction behind you.

Set Yourself Up for Probation Success

  • Know.  Make sure you find out what the terms are of your probation and how long it lasts.  Typically, you will at minimum be ordered to stay drug free and not have any other criminal offenses.    
  • Do.  Confirm that you have your paperwork and call the court for a copy if you have lost it.  This will list what you need to accomplish and when.  Typically you will need a counseling evaluation and a certain amount of counseling sessions. You may have community service obligations.  Following through with the Court’s orders is essential.
  • Report.  Ensure that anything you complete is reported, because you want to “get credit” for the counseling, etc. that you finish.  If you don’t know whether the court has a record of what you’ve done, be proactive to call and find out.

Do Not Drive with a Suspend Driver’s License 

  • Don’t drive while your license is suspended.  Typically, your license will be suspended.  Make sure that you do not drive during the suspension period.
  • Complete the DUI Program.   You will likely need to complete a DUI program prior to reinstatement of your license.    
  • More information about Suspended Driver’s License.  For more information about a suspended driver’s license in California go to http://www.dmv.org/ca-california/suspended-license.php

Compliant Driving after a DUI – Interlock and Insurance

  • Interlock.  An ignition interlock device prevents you from driving with a level of blood alcohol above the setting.  You will typically be ordered to utilize this device for a certain amount of time following your DUI, and you shouldn’t do anything to try to bypass the system.    
  • Insurance.  You need a special type of automobile insurance following a DUI.  It is often called high-risk or SR-22 insurance.  Make sure that you obtain the right kind of insurance and keep your payments current.

If you take the time to know and obey the terms of your probation, you can successfully overcome a DUI conviction.  Make sure that you find out what you need to accomplish, avoid driving while your license is suspended, and take the steps necessary once your driving privileges are restored.

3 Things to Avoid Saying in a Custody Battle

You’ve probably heard that you have a right to remain silent in a criminal case, but sometimes it’s an advantage to you to remain silent in a civil case as well.  This is particularly true in the tense situation of a custody battle.  Some parents can be their own worst enemy in a fight over custody of their children.  This article is going to remind you of what you likely already know when you are in a non-stressful situation, and will help you apply these tried and true principles in a custody case.

Avoid All Physical Threats/Cussing/Bashing the Ex

When you are in a custody battle, you need to be cautious about every word you speak.  Imagine that the judge is sitting on your shoulder overhearing every word and decide whether your tone and language will benefit you.

  • Never make a threat of physical harm, even if it is in jest.  Even words meant with sarcasm can be taken out of context.
  • Avoid cussing or hateful speech as these can reflect poorly on you.  You have an opportunity to create your image with the words that come out of your mouth, so make sure that you come across as even-tempered, wise and caring. These are traits almost anyone values in a parent, and exhibiting them will help win points in the custody battle.
  • Don’t bash the ex to the children.  When you talk about your ex negatively to the children, it puts the kids in the middle of the battle.  It isn’t healthy for them, and it won’t help you with the case. 

Don’t be too eager to show your hand 

  • Keep your strategy between you and your attorney.  If you were a gambler, you wouldn’t show your opponents your hand of cards.  Similarly, you want to avoid giving the other side too much information about your strategy and plans.
  • You may not want to be too specific initially about your priorities.  If having the kids this Christmas is the most important thing to you in this world, you may or may not want to share that information just yet.  Revealing your pain points may cause a vindictive ex-spouse to try to prevent you from having the kids this Christmas just to spite you.
  • Follow your attorney’s advice on information you share. Your attorney can advise you on what information to share or hold back, but in general you want to share information strategically at the right times and in the right ways. 

Refrain from “never” and “always” and stick to the truth

  • Don’t back your ex into a corner.  When you tell someone you will never do something or you always deserve something, then you automatically trigger an obstinate reflex.  Even though the term is custody “battle,” they often involve a lot of negotiation, so keep tried and true principles of negotiation in mind:  Don’t back your opponent into a corner by using words that show you aren’t interested in compromise.
  • Don’t exaggerate, stick to the truth.  In an emotional situation, it is easy to exaggerate a story or twist the truth a bit to try to get what you want.  When you are working to get custody of your children, you will be best served by only saying things that are absolutely true because this builds credibility with your children, with the counselors and evaluators that may be involved, and ultimately the judge.  Stick to the truth.

While these are a few of the things you shouldn’t say, there are many things that should be expressed.  Children are sensitive to divorce, so share your love and appreciation for them often.  Take an interest in them.  Spend the time that you can and talk to them about their feelings.  Take the opportunity to model cooperation and civility for your children during the custody case, and if hard positions or harsh words need to be said, let those come from your attorney so that you can be a calm and collected rock for should children to lean on.

How to Know When to Strike a Plea Bargain and When to Go to Trial

Deciding what to do when you are facing a criminal charge can be challenging, but taking a step back to analyze your case will help you decide the best course of action for you.  Since each case is different, there are many facts and factors play into a decision this important, but this article will help you think them through.   

  • Do you need to decide yet?

If you were just arrested, you do not need to decide immediately whether to enter a plea or go to trial.  You will have the opportunity to attend hearings prior to trial.  If you qualify, you can request that an attorney be appointed for you.  If you want to hire a private attorney, you will have time to follow through with that.  It is possible obtain a continuance to have additional pre-trial hearings if there is an appropriate reason.  The bottom line is that you shouldn’t feel pressured to decide your case strategy right up front.

  • What are your odds of winning at trial?

You need to look at your odds of winning at trial to decide whether to risk it.  Is there a witness that may recant or may not be available?  Is there a credibility issue that a jury is likely to believe or disbelieve witnesses at trial?  How much technology was involved in creating the evidence against you?  Is a common person likely to find the evidence reliable?  Is the evidence extremely strong, or is there room for doubt?

  • Is the plea bargain really to your advantage?

Remember that the prosecutor is your adversary in this situation.  Look carefully at the deal that is presented.  Is it really valuable to you?  For example, a typical offer the prosecutor may make to every defendant with a DUI charge is that the traffic violation will be dismissed with prejudice.  Is this really a benefit to you?  Can you get more out of a bargain if you wait?

  • What are the policies at play?

A prosecutor is likely under the direction of his or her supervisor, and it is helpful to have the advice of an attorney who knows the prosecutor or the office politics.  Is the prosecutor reluctant or eager to go to trial?  This could determine whether the plea offer gets better or worse as you go along.  Are there restrictions to the prosecutor’s ability to offer you a plea?

  • What sentence is likely under either scenario?

When you are considering a plea vs. trial, you need to know what punishments are likely with each choice.  Make sure you find out all aspects of the prosecutor’s plea.  Don’t just focus on the amount of jail time that will be involved, but also find out what counseling, probation and fines will be included.  Is there a significant difference between the sentence likely under the plea bargain and the sentence likely if you lose for trial?

These are just a few of the many factors that need to be weighed when choosing between a plea bargain and a trial.  Consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney will typically be helpful to you in making the choice because they can assist in determining the strength of the evidence against you, the extent of advantage the plea bargain really is to you, and the various possibilities for sentencing of the charge if a plea is entered vs. a trial.   

Thinking About Getting a Divorce?  10 Essential Steps for Planning Ahead

If you are considering a divorce, it never hurts to plan ahead. Read below for the 10 essential steps you won’t want to miss in preparing for divorce.

  1. Document everything you can find about money coming in or out from your spouse’s side.  If you are in the dark about your spouse’s sources of income or the amounts, start nailing that information down.  Pay attention to anything your spouse tells you about income or debt, and document that information with screen shots if possible.  Check your credit card statements.  Find out about employer benefits that your spouse may have, such as 401K or HSA accounts.  Think outside the box to assets your spouse may hold that may not be as obvious, such as a large number of frequent flyer miles or a side business with his or her family that brings in a certain income.  
  2. Get organized about money coming in or out from you own side.  You likely have a general idea about your own income and debts, but you will want to save that information in an organized manner.  Do you know where your tax information is?  Refresh your records on your savings accounts, investment accounts, etc.  
  3. Prepare your information in a place that will be easy to access after the divorce.  After you have documented information about your collective finances, you need to save it in a place that will be easily accessible, such as your workplace or in the possession of a family member.  Even where both parties are civil, keeping this information in a neutral place will avoid the potential for uncomfortable situations.
  4. Get property valued before the divorce.  Getting a valuation of property may be valuable down the road, but your ability to do or the value in this information highly depends on the types of assets involved and their value.  Some ideas to consider include:  Taking the ring into a local jewelry store for assessment.  Asking a car dealership the trade in value of your vehicles. Obtaining an appraisal of the home.
  5. Update your job resume before filing.  If your spouse provides the financial support for your family, you may want to consider getting additional job training or education before filing.  You may not end up receiving as much support from your ex-spouse as you need, so being able to step into the job market will empower you.
  6. Look at the date you are planning to file.  The timing of your divorce can be important in some cases.  Is your spouse expecting a large bonus or promotion soon?  Do you have a large financial obligation pending, such as a house under contract as buyer or seller?  Is one of your children approaching their 18th birthday?  Consider everything before deciding when to pull the plug.
  7. Plan ahead for health insurance.  If your insurance is through your spouse’s employer, you may want to see what other health insurance options will be available to you.  You may be able to find options that are less expensive or you may be able to find employment where you can get health insurance benefits on your own.
  8. Consider what you value most.  It’s a good idea to think ahead and decide what you value most and what you want to fight for, so that you can advise your attorney on what success looks like for you in the divorce.  Do you want to stay in the family home?  Do you care about the timeshare?  Think ahead logically.  One mistake often made in divorce is that the parties get caught up in the anger and spite and spend a lot of money on an issue that they don’t care about that much.  Before the fireworks start, think about what you must have and what you can give up.
  9. Don’t assume that something is your because it is in your name. You may think that because an asset is in your name that it can’t be divided up in the divorce, but that often is not the case.  When you are looking at your financial landscape, consider that assets and liabilities are likely to be taken into account regardless of the superficial designation of ownership.
  10. Seek professional advice.  Even if you haven’t decided for sure whether you want to leave the marriage, you can seek advice from an attorney on how to plan ahead financially in the event that divorce is the right decision for you.  

5 Telltale Signs You Need A New Lawyer

A great attorney can make all the difference in your case, but a bad one can ruin you.   If you keep your eyes peeled to your attorney’s behavior and work, you will know quickly whether you have found someone amazing to represent you or whether you are stuck with a lemon of an attorney.  Watch for these 5 telltale signs, and if you see any of these exhibited, you’ll know you need to find a new attorney.   

  1. Misses Hearings or Is Tardy.  If your attorney is late for court appearances or misses them altogether, his or her behavior is not only unprofessional, but could likely impact your case.  One of your attorney’s main responsibilities is to calendar the dates, keep track of deadlines, file documents on time, and be in court punctually to represent you.  Failure on your attorney’s part to follow through may be grounds for a Bar Complaint, but at the very least, you should look for someone more dependable.
  2. Treats You With Disrespect.  Your attorney will hopefully be very knowledgeable and experiences, and you should give him or her your respect.  However, your counsel should also treat you with courtesy and professionalism.  If your attorney ever calls you names, dismisses your input, or makes you feel badly about yourself, you should look into hiring someone new.
  3. Offends the Judge or Court Staff.  If you notice that the judge or the judge’s staff is bristling at your attorney’s demeanor or if it is obvious that the judge just doesn’t like your attorney, you may want to find someone with better people skills. The judge’s perspective on your attorney may influence his or her decision on your case.  You may think that the way your attorney treats the staff is not important, but often the staff will tattle to the judge behind closed doors if your attorney acts out of line with them.  You want an attorney who is aggressive enough to go to bat for you, but not one who burns bridges with those who decide your fate.
  4. Ignores Your Phone Calls or Fails to Answer Emails.  A common complaint among clients is that that their attorney either fails to respond via phone or writing to their inquiries.  If you have questions that are going unanswered or important communications that your attorney is ignoring, you may want to look elsewhere.  Failure to give you attention can be for many reasons, from too large a client load to just general disinterest.  Whatever the reason, the result is that the proper communication channels have broken down, which gives you grounds to find someone who is a more effective communicator.
  5. Is Out of His/Her League.  Some cases require more sophistication than others.  A felony is often more difficult to defend than a misdemeanor.  Some divorce cases are more complex or involve more assets than others.  If your attorney tells you he or she is not experienced enough or does not have time for a case of your complexity, then you should find someone with the requisite experience.  If you can see from your counsel’s representation of you that he or she is really in too deep of water, you should find someone else.  Your liberty, money, assets, children, or whatever the case is about is your first priority, and you should not be concerned with firing an attorney who isn’t the best for you and your case.

What Happens When My Juvenile Child Gets Arrested?

It can be a scary phone call when you answer the phone and find out that your juvenile son or daughter has gotten into trouble. Some parents may get sad or even mad but likely one of the most common responses is confusion as to how this could happen and what happens next.

Q. What will happen if my child gets in trouble?
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Can I Evict My Renter or Tenant?

Many people in California have recently heard the story about the “Nightmare Nanny,” the nanny that refused to vacate the home where she lived and worked. Her refusal to leave once she was fired by the family that employed her created a difficult and awkward situation. This article is a brief discussion about when you may be able to evict a renter or a tenant. There are a lot of variables in these types of cases so it may be in your best interest to consult David Knecht if you find yourself having landlord/tenant issues.
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What Should I Wear When I Go to Court? 5 Rules of Courtroom Fashion You Won’t Want to Break!

Many clients ask basic questions like: “What should I wear when I go to court?” or “What should I wear to my court hearing?” If you are a defendant in a criminal case, a professional appearance is vital for making the right impression, but if you are a witness or jury member, you will want to dress appropriately as well. Appearance is a matter of opinion, but here are a few important recommendations:

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