Subscribe to LexTalk to stay on top of today’s legal issue and trends.
Catapult Your Career |
Industry Insights & Trends |
Product Training & Tips
People who have been charged with a DUI offense and who need to retain private counsel will soon find that there are many choices presented to them. The majority of people in this situation have never had to hire a criminal defense attorney before and may not know what criteria are important to consider. One common question that often comes up is whether it is a good idea to hire a defense attorney who has prior experience as a prosecutor or Deputy District Attorney. It is generally a good idea to retain a former prosecutor if charged with driving under the influence.
DUI is far and away one of the most frequently prosecuted crimes in California. As a result, district attorneys typically handle a great number of DUI prosecutions during their prosecutorial careers. They gain unique insight and expertise in dealing with these types of offenses, and usually have a good idea about what judges and juries need to hear in order to convict or acquit a defendant. This knowledge and experience is priceless in defending those have been charged with driving under the influence. Former prosecutors who now represent those charged with DUI will often know how best to present a case to a judge or prosecutor. Defense attorneys who used to prosecute DUIs will have a unique familiarity with the DUI laws that other attorneys without this experience simply do not gain over the course of their careers.
In many cases, a defense attorney who used to be a prosecutor will be well aware of the “tricks” that prosecutors or police officers may try during a DUI case. A former prosecutor often knows how to “read between the lines” of police incident reports and knows how to effectively cross-examine officers and challenge their accounts where necessary. Most former prosecutors know the laws surrounding DUI offenses extremely well.
In many cases, police witnesses may be openly hostile to defense attorneys. However, prosecutors work closely with the police over the course of their careers and many former prosecutors often are still highly regarded by the officers whose cases they used to handle. Having this kind of history and reputation can be critical when representing a client on a DUI charge.
In addition, former prosecutors can also provide an advantage to clients who are challenging a driver’s license suspension with the California Department of Motor Vehicles. People who are arrested for DUI will have their license suspended independent of any court action unless they actively request an administrative hearing within 10 days of the arrest. The hearing is held before a DMV hearing officer who is neither an attorney nor a judge. Former prosecutors are familiar with the DUI laws and procedures and possess the knowledge and skills necessary to give their clients the best chance at protecting their license at an administrative hearing. It is highly advisable that those who have been arrested for a DUI offense retain a former prosecutor to represent them.