Are you a driver who has been involved in an accident? Have you been slapped with a DUI charge and a possible civil charge for the injuries or death caused to other people? Well, this is a serious matter, especially if it involves death, but you do not have to worry a lot. The good news is that many drivers have been freed from similar charges and are back to their businesses. As a driver, you can face both criminal and civil charges if you cause a serious accident. When this happens, you are expected to defend yourself against two different lawsuits: Criminal lawsuit: the state may bring criminal charges of DUI and civil lawsuit where the victims may demand damages for the injuries sustained as a result of the accident. The main difference between these two areas of law is that criminal lawsuits are pressed by the state while civil lawsuits are brought by the victims of the accident.
The Burden of Proof in Criminal Civil DUI & Court Cases
In criminal cases, defendants may be charged, convicted and even sentenced to a jail term. In some other cases, the defendant may lose driving privileges, pay court ordered fines or serve on probation. On the other hand, a civil lawsuit is where a victim pursues the defendant to recover the damages for the hospital bills, lost incomes and damage to property. In criminal DUI case, the burden of proof lies on the prosecution to show that the defendant is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. There are higher standards of proof based on “reasonable doubt” compared on civil matters whose proof of evidence is on balance of probabilities. Based on the preponderance of the evidence, the plaintiff is expected to show that 50% of the claims are true. In a criminal trial, a defendant who is found guilty of the DUI charges or has the charges dismissed may still have to face a civil case. Where the accident was a fatal collision, the survivors may file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Consequences of a DUI Lawsuit in a Fatal Accident
If you are found guilty of a DUI after an accident that caused serious injuries or death, you may be faced with aggravated DUI. If it is proven beyond reasonable doubt that you are guilty of the offense, you may be faced with serious punishment, including $5,000 in fines and other court ordered penalties such as restitution. In addition, you may have to be faced with a felony or revocation of the license.
What Type of Attorney Do do You need?
If you are faced with a DUI with accident charges, you need to hire a criminal defense lawyer to help you figure out what to do to fight the case. The defense attorney has numerous options and tactics that can be applied to your specific case. A criminal lawyer is familiar with all the DUI laws in your state. DUI with accident charges is serious matters that have far-reaching implications on your office work, incomes and license. Therefore, you need to hire someone who has the experience and familiarity with all the court procedures, rules, and challenges.
If you have received a notice of a civil lawsuit after a DUI accident or similar crimes, you need to contact your insurance company first before you do something else. If you do not have coverage, you need to retain a personal injury attorney who is well experienced in civil law as well as criminal law.
The Lawyer Will Provide Counter Evidence
After being arrested for drunk driving, you expect to be arraigned in court to answer to charges. If the police have sufficient evidence that can sustain a trial, you will be taken to trial. Alternatively, your lawyer may organize for a plea bargain with the prosecution. Following these procedures, the sentencing phase will follow. In most cases, DUI charges are classified as a misdemeanor but this may be sufficient to land you behind the bars for a longer period. If you want to fight the charges, your defense lawyer may work to challenge the BAC testing and its validity through providing evidence from an expert witness statement.
Your lawyer will have to provide evidence to help prove that you were not under the influence at the time of arrest. You will be able to prove through documentary evidence that will prove that the blood testing kit was not accurately calibrated. At a reputable law firm, personal injury lawyers understand how to deal with both civil and criminal aspects of a DUI case and the quest for compensation of the victims of the accident. The lawyers will use relevant evidence to the best of your advantage. If you or a loved one has been given a notice, click here to contact a legal professional to defend you in your DUI charges.
We’ve all been there before. You’ve had a few drinks and, in a moment of sheer carelessness, you tell yourself that your blood-alcohol level is still within acceptable limits. So you decide to drive home, and just as you leave the parking lot, a police car stops you, a blood sample is taken and before you know it, you’re behind bars and wishing you had hired a cab to take you home. Driving under the influence is a criminal offense wherever you go and no matter how flimsy it may seem, it does perform a vital function in protecting the public interest. Moreover, the consequences flowing from such a violation of the law are best avoided. So if you find yourself facing prosecution for a DUI offense, don’t hesitate to pick up that phone and call a Los Angeles DUI lawyer.
Every Action Has A Consequence: Minimum Penalties
Even though a DUI charge is classified as a misdemeanor, a conviction can come with grave consequences. Depending on whether it’s a first, second or third offense, your license can be suspended or, in the most extreme cases, revoked. Yes, never again will you be able to drive a motor vehicle for the rest of your life.
When you’re eventually sentenced it does happen that you can be ordered to pay a fine, which normally takes the form of an admission of guilt. The fine normally ranges between $390-$1800. Furthermore, a third offense carries the steep penalty of imprisonment for up to 18 months in a state prison and a fine of up to $16 000. Then there is also the possibility of a court handing down a rehabilitation order for alcohol treatment. Getting carried away on the wheel is definitely not worth it, right?
Things Can Be Much Worse
It doesn’t end there, though. A court has a pretty wide discretion when it comes to DUI sentencing. You will find that, whilst wary of the danger of the duplication of charges -which can infringe greatly on the constitutional rights of an accused- a court can still sentence you to ‘cocktail’ of penalties that includes all the aforementioned.
However, if you kill someone in the process everything changes and you can find yourself fighting an additional charge for culpable homicide. Culpable homicide is a felony and carries a minimum sentence of up to 5 years in a state prison.
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is as equally involved in a DUI case as the state prosecutors. After all, it is them who sign-off all the paperwork when your license is either revoked or suspended. In fact, proof of an arrest is all they require to take such drastic action. Now, this is where you ought to have your wits about you. You will only have 10 days to plead your case before a DMV panel eventually does so. With the aid of a lawyer, you should schedule a hearing with the DMV and state reasons why such order shouldn’t be granted against you.
Escaping By A Whisker
A DUI offense is not something you can simply wish away. It takes a smart lawyer who can manipulate all the available loopholes in the law to get you off the hook. A prosecution with hard evidence and strong witness testimony can have you being whisked away to prison in a flash. Nonetheless, it’s not all that bad. For many it’s little more than a slap on the wrist and life goes on. Charges can be dropped, or better still, the prosecution’s case can be dismissed on the basis of weak evidence. An acquittal -a finding of ‘not guilty’- is also another possibility. This is whereby a court finds that -on the available evidence- some doubt exists as to whether you are guilty. In this case, you walk away a free man.
A Look At Statistics
In a 2015 report issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a total of 10,265 people were killed in traffic accidents that involved a driver with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher. That figure represented almost 30% of the annual vehicle traffic fatalities. As the evidence suggests, drunk driving is a serious concern in modern society. The whole idea behind DUI laws is, therefore, to deter people from committing a crime that is potentially harmful to the people around them, that is, the public.[Top]
Today, knowing the law and becoming a great attorney aren’t the only things beginners need to do. It takes lots of time, money and resources to turn young associates from being revenue drains to becoming income earners as well. But for this transformation to happen, some input will be required on the rookie’s part. If you’re just beginning to practice law, you need to create a robust business development plan to ensure a long, fruitful career.
Hit the Ground Running
In most firms, there are many valuable resources one could use to grow their skills and knowledge. So take some initiative; become familiar with your firm’s intranet and website. Here, you will find crucial information about the firm’s practice areas, senior management structure, and offices. Pay attention to upcoming legal developments, and the news in general.
If there’s an in-house marketing team, introduce yourself to the key players. Knowing who to call (and when to do it) will not only help you in routine tasks but also provides a good opportunity to make an impression. So schedule regular meetings with these individuals, and find creative ways to actively participate in your firm’s seminars and presentations.
Grow Your Platform
Getting comfortable with how you present your brand to people will be very important as your career grows. And your pitch can take many forms; creating different versions for a variety of audiences is the way to go. Start by crafting a simple elevator speech — you should be able to describe yourself, your practice, where you operate from, and what drives you professionally, in less than 30 seconds. This will be one of the best tools to have with you throughout your career.
Biographies are some of the most-read sections of a law firm’s website. So always update yours regularly; prospective clients won’t know what you’ve already achieved in your career unless you inform them. Always ensure your bio includes recent articles you’ve authored, presentations you have written, and a section related to your role in the local community as well.
Your social media profiles can also project your professional image. But success on these platforms entirely hinges on the right approach. Go through your accounts carefully, and remove all items that would negatively affect your professional image. Privacy settings can also help you control what can be seen, and by whom as well.
Build Personal Relationships
While modern technology will allow you stay in touch with a large a number of contacts, the good, old personal touch is still important. With one-on-one meetings, you’ll establish a personal touch you couldn’t otherwise create through the internet. Scheduling meetings, even in informal settings, will not only deepen your professional relationships but also make them more meaningful. Some good ways to catch up with clients and other lawyers include having lunch with them, inviting them to your office and taking part in local events. The latter will also help you stay in touch with members of community organizations you may be involved with.
Don’t Hide Behind Your Desk
Although billable hours will take up most of your schedule, getting out of the office to grow your professional network is still important. Perhaps the easiest way to foster new relationships is to interact with attendees of seminars you present. Since they’re already interested in what you have to offer, following up with them will help you grow the contacts in your network in future.
Other effective ways to network include: joining a local nonprofit organization and becoming part of your bar association’s committee. Whatever you do, don’t forget to stay in touch with people in your network from time to time. After all, you’ll still need clients to bill in future.
Set Yourself Apart
Because modern clients are free to choose from a large pool of lawyers, business development from an attorney’s perspective has become rather difficult. As such, you’ll need to ensure you always present the best version of your brand if you’re going to enhance your visibility to your target market. Start with a good plan, and find effective ways to become an invaluable resource to those prospects. Your brand message should always be up-to-date; always remember to add new areas of expertise, and interesting cases you’ve recently worked on as well.[Top]