Posts

Risks Inherent When Relying on Public Defender’s Office

Kern County’s Public Defender’s Office appears to be pushed to the brink in terms of their ability to competently handle their caseload.

It is no secret that, over the past couple of years, a huge number of experienced and highly competent attorneys have left the Kern County Public Defender’s Office for private practice. And that Office has responded by repeatedly hiring fresh batches of new attorneys, usually straight out of law school, or with very little criminal defense experience. While this mentality certainly saves money, it leaves clients who depend on the service of the Public Defender (mainly for relatively minor offenses such as DUI, narcotics possession and sales, theft, spousal abuse or domestic violence, etc.) with added risks in their criminal cases that are already fraught with inherent potential pitfalls. Let me refer to two cases that I have handled just within the past week that prove my point:

Late last week a new client came in with a very straightforward possession of narcotics (H&S 11379 and H&S 11377) case. The case had been filed with the court in November. The client had been to court at least three separate times and each time the case was continued because she had not yet spoken with her assigned public defender, despite making numerous attempts and leaving several un-returned voice mail messages.

Another case that I inherited from the Public Defender’s Office in November when it was set for jury trial was dismissed today after only my third appearance. Not because of any magic trick or loophole that I was able to find, but rather simply because I had the time to take the extra step that the Public Defender did not.

The point is, when caseloads get so big that individual clients and cases are neglected, either in terms of client contact or preparation, it is the clients who suffer. Having an attorney who doesn’t have time to return calls and can only speak to you in court is nearly akin to having no attorney at all. Likewise, pushing a case to the brink of trial because even an experienced attorney doesn’t have the time or resources to “turn over every stone” is an unnecessary addition of risk to an already inherently risky situation.

To be fair though, the Kern County Public Defender’s Office does have a small core of dedicated and HIGHLY professional, experienced, and competent criminal defense attorneys and support staff; however, those attorneys are almost always assigned only the most serious and complex criminal cases.  If you or someone you know has been charged with a relatively minor offense (DUI, narcotics possession and sales, theft, spousal abuse or domestic violence, etc.), there can still be some very serious consequences.  Don’t take chances if you don’t have too! Hire an experienced and respected criminal defense attorney.  CALL THE LAW OFFICE OF JOEL E. LUECK TODAY

Hiring the Best DUI Attorney for You

If you are charged with DUI, finding the right attorney to handle your case will be all important. This professional can assist you in making decisions, provide answers to the questions your are bound to have related to appearing in court, and represent you there as well.

Searching for Your Attorney

You can begin your search for a DUI lawyer in Bakersfield by asking your family and friends if they can recommend an attorney who represents clients charged with driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence. In addition, doing an online search will certainly point you in the right direction for finding someone to take your case.

Working with the Public Defender

If you cannot afford to hire a DUI attorney, a public defender can be assigned to represent you. Note that public defenders do not specialize, and they often handle an assortment of criminal cases at the same time. Also, the time he or she has to devote to your case will be limited because they generally carry extremely large case loads. Consequently, both of you will have to make the best of an unfortunate situation.

As you try to choose a DUI lawyer in Bakersfield, consider the following factors:

  • the amount of experience your attorney should have, and
  • whether you want an attorney with a well-known partnership with impressive credentials.

In order to practice law, every attorney must be a member of the State Bar Association. The DUI lawyer you hire may also belong to the American Bar Association’s (ABA’s) Criminal Justice Section, the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys or your State Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys. Any attorney you consider hiring should be able to provide you with a detailed list of criminal cases that they have successfully handled in the past.

What You Should Do

Prior to selecting your DUI lawyer  in Bakersfield, be sure to have all of your questions answered. For example, you can ask for references and information about your attorney’s educational background, rather than being overwhelmed by advertising that is meant to grab your attention as you make your choice. You will also want to know how much time will be devoted to your case and what fee scale applies.

Remember that if you spend the right amount of time and effort in choosing the DUI attorney who is right for you, you should be able to find one who inspires your confidence, someone you feel you can work with. This professional should answer your questions to your satisfaction and be well-equipped to defend you in court.

The Benefit of Hiring a Respected, Local Attorney

In communities such as Bakersfield, many people who are faced with the need to hire a criminal defense attorney mistakenly believe that retaining a “Big City” attorney from Los Angeles gives them a better chance at successfully defending themselves.  Unfortunately, often times this could not be further from the truth.  As a case in point, consider the circumstances of Mike R., a resident of Los Angeles who was stopped in Kern County on his way to the Bay Area.  After being pulled over for DUI, Mike was also found to be in possession of Ecstasy.  He was arrested and charged with Transportation of a Controlled Substance (Health & Safety Code section 11379) and DUI (Vehicle Code section 23152) among other charges.  Due to the fact that he had a Strike Prior and had been sentenced to prison within the past five years, he was facing a potential sentence of 9 years in state prison.  Initially, Mike was represented by an attorney from Los Angeles.  That attorney represented him through the preliminary hearing stage, but in an effort to settle the case before trial, was only able to obtain an offer from the Kern County District Attorney’s Office of 4 years in prison.  Realizing that a local attorney may benefit him, Mike retained the Law Office of Joel E. Lueck and today was placed on probation and sentenced to 6 MONTHS in county jail.

The point is that although every county is bound by the laws of the State of California, each county interprets and applies those laws differently.  Having an attorney who practices in the community and has a proven track record of success is what those charged with crimes should look for, rather than falling prey to the mistaken belief that an attorney from Los Angeles is their best option simply based upon the location of their office.

24 DUI Detection Cues Police Use

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has identified twenty-four visual cues to aid officers in detecting nighttime impaired drivers.  Be advised that any one of these cues may cause an officer to believe that you are driving under the influence and therefore pull you over.

  1. Weaving
  2. Weaving Across Lane Lines
  3. Straddling A Lane Line
  4. Swerving
  5. Turning With Wide Radius
  6. Drifting
  7. Almost Striking Object or Vehicle
  8. Stopping Problems (too far, too short, too jerky)
  9. Accelerating or Decelerating Rapidly
  10. Varying Speed
  11. Slow Speed (10 mph + Under Limit)
  12. Driving In Opposing Lanes or Wrong Way on One-Way Street
  13. Slow Response to Traffic Signals
  14. Slow or Failure to Respond to Officer’s Signal’s
  15. Stopping in Lane for No Apparent Reason
  16. Driving Without Headlights at Night
  17. Failure to Signal or Signal Inconsistent with Action
  18. Following Too Closely
  19. Improper or Unsafe Lane Change
  20. Illegal or Improper Turn (too fast, jerky, sharp, etc.)
  21. Driving on Other Than Designated Roadway
  22. Stopping Inappropriately In Response to Officer
  23. Inappropriate Or Unusual Behavior (throwing objects, arguing, etc.)
  24. Appearing to be Impaired

Vehicle Code Section 23152

In California, DUI charges are normally limited to application of Vehicle Code sections 23152(a) and (b). What can be quite confusing to people charged with DUI is that often they will be charged with both subsection (a) and (b). Too many people, this creates the mistaken belief that they have been charged with two separate DUI offenses.
What most people don’t realize is that it is possible to be charged with, and even convicted of, DUI even if one’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is below 0.08 percent.

If you’ve been arrested for DUI and have not given a blood, breath, or urine sample (for whatever reason), you will most likely be charged with only section 23152(a).

If you have been arrested for DUI and have provided a blood, breath, or urine sample that shows a BAC of 0.08 percent or more, you will most likely be charged with both subsections (a) and (b) of Vehicle Code section 23152. The fact that you have been charged with both sections does not mean that you are charged with two separate
DUI offenses.

In addition to the criminal penalties that DUI convictions carry, there are administrative penalties as well with the Department of Motor Vehicles. DUI arrests require quick action on the part of the person arrested in order to protect your rights. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney and the DMV immediately.


Vehicle Code section 23152

(a) It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle.
(b) It is unlawful for any person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle.
For purposes of this article and Section 34501.16, percent, by weight, of alcohol in a person’s blood is based upon grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath. In any prosecution under this subdivision, it is a rebuttable presumption that the person had 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of driving the vehicle if the person had 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of the performance of a chemical test within three hours after the driving.

Download PDF