Tough DUI Penalties in Harbor Justice Center

Defending DUI charges is difficult at the best of times, but can be very frustrating when options narrow and you are dealing with a District Attorneys Office in Orange County that is very inflexible and Judges who simply support DA policy.

I was in Harbor Justice Center yesterday for a client charged with a second DUI, while still in her first year of probation to Harbor Court on her first DUI. Penalties for a second time DUI in Orange County vary from 96 hours minimum county jail to one-year maximum. Penalties for a probation violation on the first DUI vary from no jail time to six months in county jail. The maximum exposure was, therefore, one and a half years county jail. I had already conferenced the case with the arraignment court judge, Judge Biggs who had offered 90 days in county jail or 30 days jail plus a six-month outpatient treatment program. We had rejected that offer and entered a plea of not guilty. Yesterday, we were scheduled for pre-trial with Judge Robison. The judge was not receptive to argument and it became clear to me that I was not going to be able to persuade him to allow my client to perform alternatives to jail. He made it clear that he regarded SCRAM as a waste of time, and refused to give my client credit for the multiple AA meetings attended. He did offer to allow my client to perform her jail in Huntington Beach jail instead of county jail, but my client had run out of money and could not afford "private" jail.

The other option presented to my client was to request "DUI Court", whereby she would commit to a full year of outpatient counseling and weekly attendance at court in return for the 96 hours minimum jail to be performed as home arrest. However, my clients work schedule was not flexible enough to accommodate the weekly meetings.

I feel that I make a difference to the outcome of the majority of cases and most of my clients are happy with my efforts at the end of the day. However, there are limits to what we can achieve sometimes in the harsh reality of defending DUI charges in Orange County.
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