Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What to say if you are contacted by Law Enforcement

So I met a fellow Seattle DUI Defense attorney who is also a graduate of the University of Utah the other day in court. He gave me his business card, and on the back it had this. Since friends always ask what to do if they get stopped by a police officer. Here you go.

What to say if you are contacted by law enforcement:

I refuse to consent to any search of my premises, the location of my arrest, my automobile, or personal affects. I wish to exercise my rights under the 5th and 6th Amendments to remain silent and to have my lawyer present during any questioning.

I do not want to answer any questions nor make a written or taped statement without first having the advise of counsel.

I refuse to do all field sobriety tests, including the portable breath test. I wish to talk with my attorney prior to consenting to take a breath test or blood test at the police station or hospital.

What does this mean in English?

So if you get stopped by a police officer after you have been drinking. First relax. If the officer had a reason to pull you over and smells the odor of alcohol, you most likely are going to get arrested. Whether the officer has sufficient evidence to arrest for a Seattle DUI is another story.

So please do yourself and your DUI attorney a favor. Decline to answer all questions. Decline to do any field sobriety tests including the portable breath test at the scene. Ask to speak with an attorney immediately and keep quiet.

If you follow this simple advice you will make it much easier on not only yourself but you Seattle DUI Lawyer as well.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

How to choose a Seattle DUI Attorney......

If you have been arrested for a Seattle DUI then you probably have many questions. One of those questions may be how do I choose a DUI Attorney. Well here are my thoughts on how to find and choose the best DUI Attorney for you.

Step 1: Where to start
There are many places to look for a DUI Attorney. The Internet, yellow pages, friends and family. Regardless of where you start you will find there are literally hundreds and hundreds of attorneys out there that say they provide Seattle DUI Defense. Lets say you get on the internet and google "Seattle DUI Attorney" well there are hundreds of websites listed. So how do you choose?

Step 2: How to choose
I would suggest you check out as many websites as possible and narrow your choices from there. Some things you want to look at is whether the attorney practices in DUI Defense, what their experience is, do they offer a free consultation, and whether they look like someone you would want to work with. So once you have viewed as many websites as you can, write down the contact info of every Seattle DUI Attorney you like and start calling.

Step 3: Questions to ask
As I stated before there are literally hundreds and hundreds of Attorneys out their advertising themselves as a DUI Attorney. So once you have settled on maybe a dozen or so start calling. You need to weed out the good ones from the bad ones. The first thing I would do I ask them the following:

1. Do you practice exclusively in DUI Defense? This is important because there are a lot of attorneys that do advertise as Seattle DUI Attorneys. However there are very few that exclusive practice DUI Defense. DUI practice is very specialized and in order for you to have the best chance of beating this type of charge, you need someone who understands the specifics and science of it.

2. How much experience do you have? This question is pretty similar to the one above. When I mean experience I dont mean how many years have you been practicing law (although that is important). I mean how many DUI cases have you defended. This is important because you need a Seattle DUI Attorney that knows what it takes to defend a case and has the experience to rely on. In a DUI cases there are many different types of situations that can unexpectedly arise. Having a DUI Attorney that has been there and done that, will greatly enhance your chances of beating it.

3. How many cases have you taken to trial recently, what were the results? As I stated before there are literally hundreds of attorneys advertising themselves as a DUI Attorney. However very few actually go to trial and fight for their clients. There are several reasons they dont. First they dont have the experience. Secondly they dont want to work hard. Lastly they dont care about you. Going to trial is hard work. Its really hard. Ask any trial attorney. And when a person is facing jail if you lose, there is a lot of pressure knowing that. The reason I think its important to find a DUI Attorney that shows they go to trial is very simple. In Washington State any time a person is charged they face a mandatory jail sentence and fine. And lots of times the Prosecutor is not willing to negotiate and wants the mandatory jail and fine. Well if a person doesnt have any criminal history, why would they plead guilty knowing if they lose at trial they will get the exact sentence as if they pled guilty. I think a lot of times its because the DUI Attorney doesnt want to work hard, and will tell the client they may get more jail. In all honesty this is rarely the case, and it disgusts me when I hear attorney's tell their clients such information.

4. What are your fee's? As you know by now there are hundreds and hundreds of Seattle DUI Attorneys. And they all have different fees, and retainers. Ask what they are. Here are a few of the different types of fees that I have seen.
  • Per hearing: This attorney charges you per hearing, meaning everytime you go to court and the longer you case goes on the more money they make off of you. These attorneys will typically have a small retainer, maybe $1000, but they will continue to charge you a $1000 every court hearing. As you can imagine this can get pretty expensive. In addition a DUI case can typically take 6 months to a year to resolve. You do the math.
  • Flat fee until trial: This Attorney charges you a flat fee. That is until your case goes to trial. Then they will up it drastically if a case gets set for trial. This is known as a trial fee. This is probably a better option than "Per hearing," because at least you know how much everything is going to be. However I dont agree with it because basically the DUI Attorney is charging you for exercising your constitutional rights. I dont think a person should have to choose between guilty or having their attorney withdraw from their case. Because that is what this attorney will do if you are unwilling to pay the trial fee and you dont want to plead guilty.
  • Complete flat fee: This attorney charges you one flat fee for everything. To me this is the best and most fair. Because you know what the costs are upfront, and this attorney will not nickel and dime you. They will not force you to pay more to exercise your constitutional rights.
5. How many DUI cases do you have right now? In this business there are attorney's known as "turn em and burn em" type of attorneys. These are the DUI Attorneys that have lots and lots of clients. And they only have one goal to get you to plead guilty as soon as possible so they can move on to the next person. Typically this is the attorney that charges "per hearing." Or the DUI Attorney that will say "even though you dont have any criminal history, and this DUI case does not have egregious facts, you could get a substantial amount of jail if you lose at trial you should just plead guilty." I have no respect for these types of attorneys, and in my experience I would say about 75% of Seattle DUI Attorneys I see do this.

Why Leyba Defense?
1. My firm practices exclusively in DUI Defense. I would say about 95% of my cases are DUIs.
2. Most of the cases I have defended as an Attorney have been DUI's. I first began work at the Spokane County Public Defenders Office. There I worked for two years in their DUI court. Meaning all of the cases I had where DUI's. The next four years I worked at one of the largest criminal defense firms in the State. There probably 75% of my cases were DUI's. In 2010 I opened Leyba Defense PLLC which focuses exclusively on DUI Defense
3. Of the last 100 DUI's I have defended probably 50 have been set for trial. I have started trial on 21. Two were dismissed prior to trial, and 19 were actually taken to verdict.
4. I charge a complete flat fee
5. Part of the reason I left my last job was because of the high case load I had. It was very difficult for me to give everything I had for every client. At Leyba Defense PLLC I keep my case load small. By limiting the number of clients I take, I can devote more time to each case and each client.

If you want to read more about me or my firm. Click here