Felony DUI Reduced to a Misdemeanor and No Jail Time In Van Nuys Court
I recently had a case in the Van Nuys courthouse. My client was charged with a felony DUI after a multi-car accident on the 101 Freeway. What was interesting about the case is that the injury — which triggered the DUI — was not of any of the other people that she got in the accident with, but it was her own passenger. Her own passenger somehow broke her ankle during the accident in the case.
One thing people need to realize about these felony DUI’s, it can sometimes be a defense, is that the driver of the car and the defendant in the case that’s going to get the felony DUI actually has to be the one that caused the injury. If something else caused the injury in a felony DUI, then the driver’s not responsible and that’s a huge difference in these cases in the Van Nuys courthouse because instead of being charged with a felony, looking at potentially three years in prison for the felony plus another three years because you caused great bodily injury to somebody else, now you’re looking at a misdemeanor. The max on that is six month.
Typically, on a first-time misdemeanor DUI you’re going to get any jail time, so that’s a huge difference. Plus, nobody wants a felony on their record. Nobody wants to be facing prison time. So, this argument about who caused the accident is crucial. In this particular case, my client entered the 101 Freeway and somehow somebody else was flying along and hit her from behind, causing her to lose control and the passenger ends up getting injured. One thing was, there was an argument that the passenger actually caused their own injury because as they jumped out of the car as it was moving, and this was not something that was foreseeable to my client, not something that was reasonable under the circumstances.
The prosecutors were arguing that no, she didn’t jump out of the car, but it just didn’t make any sense how she got the injury to her ankle. She wasn’t wearing a seat belt either which was another strange thing, and there might have been an argument that she broke her ankle getting out of the car. So, this gives you an idea of how you could argue that the injury wasn’t caused by the person’s DUI activity; it was instead caused by someone else — like the person who got the injury or it could even be by a third party — some hit-and-run driver can fly by, hit somebody, cause an injury and then when the police come and they end up arresting the defendant for a DUI, and they’re just not sophisticated enough to figure out who actually caused the injury.
When it comes to these felony DUI’s in the Van Nuys court, another interesting thing is there can also be multiple causes of an injury. If there’s multiple causes of an injury, then how it’s evaluated is by looking at which of the multiple causes was a substantial factor? If there’s a number of substantial factors — and there’s a whole test for that , a jury instruction — then anything that’s a substantial factor is going to be responsible for the felony DUI — responsible for the injury in the case and be the cause of the injury. So, if the defendant is responsible, then the defendant is going to be guilty of the felony DUI.
So, you can see these felony DUIs are not only tricky and hard to figure out, they also come with a lot of consequences that you don’t want. Nobody wants to go to jail. Nobody wants to be facing prison. So, what we need to do in these felony DUI cases is really evaluate them step-by-step, see who caused the injury in the case, make sure the injury is bad enough to even be on par with the felony DUI. It has to be a serious injury or it’s not a felony DUI.
Pasadena Court Criminal Result Robbery Charge Dismissed
I had a case in the Pasadena courthouse recently with a client charged with a robbery, looking at prison and a strike on his record, and probably losing an important career that he had because of this serious robbery charge that he was facing. We were able to do the preliminary hearing in the case, and long story short, we did some real damage to the prosecutor’s main witness. He was drunk. His story was all mixed up. He said some things that were inconsistent with some evidence that we had. We had a video of him — a lot of the social media stuff will sometimes kill witnesses on either side when they lie about something and then they’re seen doing something else, or there’s a witness that has information that has him doing something else.
The bottom line is, once you damage the credibility of a witness in Pasadena court, or any court related to a criminal matter, the prosecutors realize they’re going to have a problem with the case and they could potentially lose it. If a jury is so turned off by the alleged victim and don’t believe some parts of their story, the question starts to become, how can they believe any of their story. So, once the prosecutor saw that, we sat down — a very reasonable prosecutor up in the trial court level — and we were able to get a non-robbery charge for my client, give him a chance to earn a misdemeanor in the future because he did do something wrong, and we were also not only able to keep him out of prison, avoid him getting a strike, but he didn’t do a day in jail which was huge for him because he has a promising career and that was going to be seriously interfered with with any type of custody time.
So, the bottom line is you put the work in. You do the investigation and preparation, but then you have to be able to execute in the courtroom. That’s where my skill lies as a criminal defense attorney. I’ve handled thousands of cases and I know how to damage the credibility of a witness and then I know how to sit down with the prosecutors and point out the problems with their case to get the result that my client must have, and that’s what we got in this Pasadena case.
I’ve had many successful results in that courthouse through hard work, ingenuity, experience and knowing how that particular system works.
Federal Narcotics Case
Client charged with transporting large quantities of cocaine: Mr. Hedding successfully negotiates a disposition involving community service and a lesser charge. The client avoids federal prison, a serious narcotics-related charge and a ten-year mandatory minimum sentence.
Norwalk Superior Court
Client charged with murder and three counts of attempted murder: Following a week-long trial, client is found not guilty of all charges and is released. After facing life-imprisonment without possibility of parole, the client is now working and living his life with his family and friends.
Criminal Courts Building, Downtown Los Angeles
Prosecution dismisses murder charges: Client charged with the crime of murder. Following a thorough defense investigation and a lineup, the prosecution finds that they have the wrong person and the case is dismissed.
Van Nuys Superior Court
Robbery charges dismissed following preliminary hearing: During the preliminary hearing, Mr. Hedding cross-examines the alleged victim after which time, the judge dismisses the case and the prosecution decides not to refile.
Criminal Courts Building, Downtown Los Angeles
Carjacking charges dismissed: At preliminary hearing Mr. Hedding convinces the judge that the client was not involved in the carjacking and the case is dismissed.
San Fernando Court
Client was charged with Domestic Violence and was in danger of losing their state bar license. Our client received no jail time and his license was saved.
San Fernando Superior Court
Client charged with assault with a deadly weapon (gun). Hedding Law Firm got on the case. The offer was 6 years state prison. After a lot of negotiating we were able to get a probationary sentence for client who avoided the 6 year prison sentence and was able to preserve his job.
Van Nuys Superior Court
Client charged with 2 counts of DUI. The Hedding Law Firm was able to negotiate a speed contest. Client was able to avoid jail time and avoid his license getting suspended. The case will be expunged and dismissed.