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Framing the issues. How to deal with bad facts.


When my clients receive a copy of the police or arrest report prepared in their case, there is often surprise or consternation that the arresting officer's report of the events is so at odds with their recollection of what transpired. The dispute may be in relation to the officer's alllegations concerning the driving pattern observed, the performance of field sobriety tests or the officer's observations about the suspect's demeanor of objective symptoms of alcohol impairment. Often there is a feeling of concern that it “just looks bad”.

Police reports are written from a law enforcement perspective, to support an arrest for DUI and to provide a prosecutor with information or ammunition to move forward with a prosecution. It is rare that the report contains a lot of positive information helpful to the defendant. Sometimes, there are a lot of positives, but more often than not, it takes some careful examination of the details to read between the lines and find evidence helpful to the defendant.

It is normally unproductive to get into a “he said, she said” kind of dispute with a prosecutor, as normally the prosecutor will give more weight to the police officer's observations in the police report, than a defendant's assertions that the officer is lying or mistaken.

Defending a case with bad facts such as a bad driving pattern, high blood alcohol level or refusal allegation can present a number of challenges, particularly if the defendant is looking for a reduction in charges, not just penalties. Sometimes it is better to try and frame the issues by moving a prosecutor away from the contents of the arrest report and instead focussing on the defendants character, efforts towards acceptance of responsibility or rehabilitation, and what is at stake for them if they are convicted. Some prosecutors can be moved to reduce charges even with bad facts if they think the defendant deserves to be treated differently. This requires a coopertative client who is willing to make an effort and work with their Los Angeles DUI defense attorney in attending AA meetings, counselling sessions, preparing letters of character reference etc.

If you are interested in learning more about the various approaches to defending a DUI in Los Angeles courts, please contact Los Angeles DUI lawyers Gold & Witham for a free consultation.