Los Angeles DUI and Old Cases
Many people charged with driving under the influence offenses in Los Angeles may fail to appear for their arraignment date or other court appearances. While a warrant may be issued by the Court when the defendant misses a court date, this warrant may remain active for years without any effect on the defendant’s day to day life. In fact, many defendants may not ever realize that they have active warrants for their arrest. However, contrary to popular belief DUI cases simply do not “go away” after a period of time and a defendant may have to deal with an old DUI case after many years, or even decades, have passed.
In many cases, a defendant may not even realize that there is a DUI warrant out for his or her arrest. When a driver is arrested for DUI, he or she is typically released and given a notice to appear with a court date. The prosecution has a year to file misdemeanor DUI charges and in many cases no charges will be filed by the date written on the notice to appear. When charges are files, the arresting agency or prosecutor’s office is typically supposed to send the defendant a letter about the new court date, but in many cases this letter may never reach the defendant.
Warrants for misdemeanor DUI cases are typically given very low priority by law enforcement agencies in the area and a person may not even learn about an active warrant unless he or she is pulled over on an unrelated traffic stop. In some cases, a defendant may learn about an active warrant during a background check. The defendant may no longer live in California and may have an immediate need to have the warrant quashed and the case resolved.
In many cases, a defendant may be able to resolve an old warrant and DUI case without having to come to court. The Court may allow the defendant’s attorney to appear on the defendant’s behalf pursuant to California Penal Code Section 977(a) PC. This is often critical for defendants who no longer reside in California and who have an immediate need to have the warrant quashed.
In some cases, the defense may be able to have the charges dismissed by filing a motion to dismiss for lack of speedy prosecution. This motion, often referred to as a Serna motion, may be granted where it can be shown that the defendant has been prejudiced by the denial of his or her speedy trial rights. If the warrant was the result of the prosecution’s failure to provide notice to the defendant of a court date, the Court may consider dismissing the charges.
Even if the charges are not dismissed for a speedy trial violation, the prosecution may have problems proving its case based on the age of charges. Witnesses often become unavailable or may no longer remember what happened. In addition, evidence may no longer be available for retesting. In some cases, the prosecution may be eager to resolve the case and may offer a reduced charge. If the defendant no longer lives in California, he or she may be able to complete the required alcohol education classes online or in his or her home state.
If you have an old DUI case that may be in warrant status, it is imperative that you consult with a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer as soon as possible. Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who is highly skilled at resolving old DUI cases and warrants on behalf of his clients.
For more information about Los Angeles DUI and old cases, and to schedule your free consultation, contact us at the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.
Written and updated by Attorney Michael Kraut.