Valley Center Criminal Defense Attorney & DUI Lawyer
Whether you are arrested for DUI while visiting a local casino or domestic violence following a dispute with your spouse after drinking at a local bar, your life can be turned upside down. If you are convicted for a misdemeanor or felony in Valley Center, you may be subjected to harsh penalties that include confinement in county jail or state prison, significant fines and other costs, community service, probation, suspension of driving privileges, registration as a sex offender and a criminal record.Facing Misdemeanor or Felony Charges in Valley Center – The Stakes Are High
This is neither a comprehensive list of all of the formal types of punishment that may accompany a conviction nor does it encompass the informal lasting consequences of a criminal conviction. The lingering impact of your conviction may impact your marriage, parenting relationship, career, education, legal rights (e.g. gun ownership), education, immigration status and more. Valley Center criminal defense attorney David M. Boertje recognizes the potentially devastating impact of a felony or misdemeanor conviction, so he works diligently to attack weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and/or improper conduct by the police. He leverages the flaws in a case against his client to obtain the best possible outcome, which might be a dismissal, acquittal, reduced charge or more lenient sentence.
Although conviction of a crime in Valley Center can permanently affect your future, Mr. Boertje has a proven track record for protecting people from false allegations, politically motivated prosecutions, law enforcement misconduct and a defendant’s own regrettable choices. Mr. Boertje utilizes private investigators, mental health professionals, experts in forensic or scientific evidence and state of the art technology in the courtroom. Whether he is negotiating a potential plea agreement to keep his client out of jail or persuasively presenting his case to a judge or jury, Mr. Boertje utilizes all of the litigation tools and criminal defense strategies at his disposal to protect his clients and safeguard their future.Handling Interaction with a Police Officer During a Stop or Arrest
Traffic Stops When You Have Been Drinking
Many people panic when they see flashing red lights in their rearview mirror. Although this reaction is natural, the way you handle a stop and/or arrest can play a significant role in the outcome of your Valley Center criminal case. If you are pulled over after a night drinking at a local bar or sporting event, you should immediately pull to the side of the road. If you can quickly and efficiently get your driver’s license, proof of insurance and vehicle registration, you should grab these documents and hold them with your hands clearly visible on the steering wheel. Because officers face legitimate threats to their safety during traffic stops, the fact that you do not have to search the car for paperwork or move your hands where the officer cannot see them will help put the officer at ease. Further, you avoid a situation where the officer observes you fumble with paperwork, drop your car keys or otherwise engage in activity that the officer will later characterize as “lack of coordination.”
While the officer has the right to demand you provide these documents, you are not required to answer other types of questions. The officer will routinely inquire about the following:
Where were you driving from?
Have you consumed any alcohol?
How many drinks did you consume?
What will I find if I check for warrants?
Do you have anything illegal like drugs in your vehicle?
Can I search your vehicle?
These questions are traps, so the answers can hurt you in multiple ways. The officer asks the questions because your answers may give the officer sufficient basis to conduct a DUI investigation or search of your vehicle or person. While rudeness and combativeness will not help you, you can courteously indicate that you do not wish to answer any questions without speaking to an attorney. While the officer is not going to grant this request, it is a legitimate and polite way to avoid lying or providing damaging information.
Preliminary Indicia of Intoxication
The officer also asks these questions because he wants to hear you speak, smell your breath and observe your body movement. He is looking for what law enforcement officers refer to as “indicia of intoxication”. These physical traits are so routinely sited by officer as a significant part of their basis for initiating a DUI investigation that they often appear in police reports almost as a matter or rote recitation. These observations include odor of alcohol on your breath, red and watery eyes, impaired coordination and slurred speech. If the officer did not have sufficient evidence to justify a longer detention and DUI investigation when he stopped you, the officer will have less opportunity to make these observations if you avoid a conversation.
Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) & Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS)
If the officer believes that your responses and/or his observations prior to or during the stop justify commencing a DUI investigation, the officer will ask you to perform field sobriety tests (FSTs) and a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS). FSTs and PAS breath testing both have low levels of reliability in terms of accurately identifying drivers whose driving skills are impaired or who have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or above. These preliminary types of drug and alcohol screening methods are designed to furnish probable cause so the officer can arrest you, and he can have you submit to formal BAC testing.
Unlike formal BAC testing of breath at the police station or blood at a hospital, you have the right to refuse these preliminary screening methods without negative consequences. Because the results serve no real purpose than to provide a basis for your arrest, you can and should decline FST and PAS testing. However, there are adverse consequences in terms of your driving privileges and DUI criminal case if you refuse formal BAC testing following your arrest.
Invoking Rights Following Prolonged Detention or Arrest
While an officer can stop you on the street or in your vehicle if he has reasonable suspicion that you are engaged in criminal activity based on articulable facts, this must be a very brief stop to inquire further. If you are stopped on the street, you must provide identification if asked or in your vehicle the paperwork indicated above, but you do not have to answer further questions. The officer is looking for information that will justify probable cause for arrest.
When you are detained, you should provide your identification and ask if you are free to leave. The officer may arrest you, but the arrest will not be lawful unless the officer has sufficient evidence to constitute probable cause for an arrest. The key is not to talk much or provide incriminating information so that you gift wrap probable cause for the officer. If you are arrested, you should remain silent except to request the presence of a Valley Center criminal defense lawyer.When Your Future Hangs in the Balance—Valley Center Criminal Defense Law Firm
If you or a loved one has been arrested in Valley Center, we invite you to contact us to discuss your case. If you call, email or visit us, we can evaluate your case, explain your rights and outline potential defense strategies. Valley Center criminal defense attorney David M. Boertje can meet with you during normal business hours and also on weekends or evenings by appointment and our office returns calls 24 hours/7 days per week. Call us today at (760) 476-0901 or (619) 229-1870 to arrange a free no obligation confidential consultation. You also can also submit an inquiry by completing the form on our Contact Us page or emailing us.