Monday, October 22, 2012

How do you get a copy of your DUI arrest police report

Im a DUI Attorney in Seattle lately I have been getting calls from people asking how they can get their DUI arrest report.  Some of these individuals are not happy with their current DUI Attorneys and they are shopping for a new one.  Some of these people were recently arrested and want to get a copy of the police report and see what the arresting officer is saying.  Others just want a copy for some random reason.

Basically if you have been arrested for a DUI in Seattle then there are three possible ways to get your DUI arrest report.

The first is to make a public disclosure request to the arresting agency.  Now depending on the arresting agency you may or may not be able to get this.  If you were arrested by the Seattle Police Department and your DUI charge has already been filed, then you will get a response from the SPD saying you are the subject of an ongoing investigation by the City of Seattle Attorneys office and they cannot disclose any materials and to contact the City Attorney.  But if you were arrested by the Washington State Patrol for example then you can contact them through a public disclosure request and they will get you a copy of your police report usually within a month.

The second way to get a copy of your police report is to represent yourself at your DUI arraignment.  This is not the smartest thing to do, but everyone has this right.  If you have an attorney they cannot disclose to you the police report under the local court rules.  If you look at Criminal Rule 4.7 it states the materials received from the Prosecutor are to remain in the exclusive custody of the defense attorney.  This means the defense attorney cannot give the client a copy of the police report. 

The other way to get a copy of the police report after a Seattle DUI arrest is to request an administrative hearing from DOL to challenge the drivers license suspension.  When you're filling out this form you can include your name or your attorneys name.  If you include your name than the DOL will send you a copy of the police report.  If you include your attorneys name, DOL will send your DUI lawyer a copy of the police report.  Your lawyer can then turn around and give that to you, since it is not subject to Criminal Rule 4.7 we discussed above.

Matthew Leyba is a DUI Lawyer in Seattle, WA.  His practice focuses on representing those accused of DUI and other serious traffic offenses.  If you have been arrested for DUI feel free to contact our office for a free 60 minute consultation.  

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Happenings in Court

So this last Thursday afternoon I was in a local court representing a client on a Seattle Municipal Court DUI.  We had a 3.6 hearing or for those not in the know.  This is a motion to suppress evidence.  In this case it was a motion to suppress the results of the breath test.

Anyway this case had been previously set for a motion hearing, but the police officer had called in sick.  So we appeared this Thursday, all prepared to go.  And the Prosecutor walks in and tells us the police officer just called in sick again.  Well to say this was frustrating for my client and myself is putting it delicately.  I was pretty pissed.  Not because the Prosecutor just informed us as was walking into court. But I was pretty upset at this certain police officer.

You see I have had three jury trials with this particular officer.  During the life of each of these cases, at least one time the police officer has called in sick for an important hearing.  In fact the last case I had with this police officer was a Seattle DUI charge.  With that case this police officer called in sick two times for the DOL hearing.  He then called in sick two times for the motion hearing to suppress evidence.  That is a total of 4 times this officer called in sick for an important part of the case.  And like my current client, my former client had to miss work each time to appear at these hearings.  And all four times the hearings were continued to another date.  So that is four times my client missed work for nothing.  All because of this certain police officer.

So to get back to the current case I have, my client turned to me and said, "what if I missed court, would the Judge just continue the case like they do for the police officer."  And honestly the Judge wouldn't.  Maybe the first time, but certainly not more than that.  Especially if I just showed up and informed the Prosecutor 5 minutes before the hearing.  I can tell you exactly what would happen.  The Prosecutor would object, ask for a warrant, and the Judge was grant that request.

As a Seattle DUI lawyer this is a frustrating part of the process.  Especially when certain officers seem to have knack for calling in sick 5 minutes for a hearing.  Either these officers don't care about following up and justifying their DUI arrests and are lazy, or they genuinely are sick all the time.  I tend to think its the former.  But I guess that is just the cynic in me.

Matthew A. Leyba is a Seattle DUI Lawyer in Western WA.  His practice focuses on representing those accused of DUI and other serious traffic offenses.  If you have been arrested for a DUI contact our office for a free, no hassle 60 minute consultation.

Friday, October 12, 2012

DUI limit really more of a guideline for state troopers in Washington State

I came across this article earlier this week from MyNorthwest news.  The author follows a State Trooper who is a member of the target zero task force on a ride along.  The Trooper arrests an individual in Ballard, Seattle for DUI.  It talks about what happened, what the law is, blah, blah, blah.  Pretty standard article dealing with this subject matter.  But as I was reading this article I was struck by this statement the Trooper made regarding his philosophy on arresting individuals for DUI in Seattle.

Trooper Brock, the arresting officer states, "I [couldn't] care less about what they blow; if they're below the legal limit, at the legal limit or five times the legal limit," said Trooper Brock, who is member of the Washington State Patrol's Target Zero Team. Their goal is to reduce deaths on the roadway.  I don't worry about what's going to happen six months or a year down the road in court," he said. "I know when I go home every single shift that if I took someone off the road, I'm 100 percent positive they were not supposed to be driving a car."

So there it is.  If you smell like alcohol, you will get arrested.  Regardless if you consumed 20 shots of tequila (which would be very impressive) or whether you had half a glass of wine.  Troopers around this State don't care what your legal limit is.  This is something that I have written before on my blog, but it's worth noting again.  If you have had 1 drink you will get arrested.  The police do not care about the legal limit and whether you're over it.

I can't tell you how many people I have met with that simply just don't understand how they can be arrested for a DUI when their breath or blood test is below the legal limit.  Heck I have represented a client before on a Seattle DUI arrest with a .03 breath test.  Based on this particular Trooper's statement law enforcement simply do not care what your alcohol level is.   

Now why is this important to note.  How many times do I meet with people who say, "well I only had 1 drink, I thought I was ok to drive.  I thought I would pass all the field sobriety tests."  What this article reveals is you can pass all the field sobriety tests.  You can honestly tell the arresting officer you only had 1 drink.  But you will still get arrested.  You will still get taken to the police statement.  You might be booked into custody and spend the night in jail.  You will still have to shell out at least $5K for an attorney.  You will have to go to court and be subject to the humiliation and embarrassment of being a defendant in a criminal case.  And the kicker is even if your DUI were to get dismissed, you still go through all this.  

Anyway.  Here is a link to the article if you're interested.

Matthew A. Leyba is a DUI Attorney in Seattle, WA.  He is the owner of Leyba Defense PLLC, a boutique Criminal DUI Defense Firm in downtown Seattle.  If you have been arrested for a DUI in Washington State contact our office for a free consultation.   

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Happenings in Court (New series)

I'll be starting a new series for my DUI blog.  It is titled "Happenings in Court."  As everyone should know Im a Seattle DUI lawyer.  That means I spend most of my days sitting in court endlessly waiting for my cases to be called.  In other words I just sit there and get to people watch.  Well some pretty interesting things happen every day in court.  Whether it is some defendant, or whether the Judge does some odd, or whether it the Attorneys involved.  Something is always going on, and I figure this will be a pretty interesting series to start, and should give everyone an insight into what happens in Courts throughout Western WA.

So today I was in court this morning in local district court.  I was waiting for my case to be called and I was sitting down for about 2 hours.  While waiting some Defense Attorney walked in.  I have never seen him before, so he probably doesnt do a lot of DUI work, or maybe he practices in other counties.  But nevertheless he came into court.

If you have never been to a district court, typically the Prosecutors are there handling all the cases for the calendar.  That means they probably have around 50 cases, sometimes more they are reasonable for.  Usually in this particular court there is only one Prosecutor.

Now its always best practice to try and contact the Prosecutor before the calendar.  Especially if you want to negotiate with them, pointing out evidentiary issues, having a lengthy conversation, etc.  So to get back to this hospital.  This defense attorney walks in.  He instantly looks upset because there are 4 other attorneys in front of him waiting to talk with the Prosecutor.  This defense attorney is making "tiff" sounds every time one of the Defense Attorneys tries talking with the Prosecutor.  Almost like this line is moving too slowly for him.

This whole time Im just sitting down observing this.  I can tell this Defense Attorney is kind of a DB, so I continue to watch.  He gets up to the Prosecutor and starts gruffly talking with him about his case.  Apparently he is representing someone on a driving while license suspended charge.  From what I gather he is saying the fact the license was suspended was a mistake by DOL.  He has brought all these documents and he is trying to point to the Prosecutor why this charge is incorrect.  While he is doing this he is raising his voice, and becoming more and more frustrated with the Prosecutor.

Then I hear him tell the Prosecutor this case should be dismissed, and blah blah.  The Prosecutor is looking at him and saying, "hey I cant look at all these documents right now."  Clearly this is something that should have been presented to the Prosecutor before court, if nothing else to give them time to review it.  Then the Defense Attorney starts getting more upset and kept saying this was a mistake and needs to get dismissed.  Finally I guess the defense Attorney realized he was getting nowhere, and just yells "Well we will just continue this," and he stormed off.

While I was watching this thing unfold I kept thinking to myself, doesnt this defense attorney realize that the Prosecutor is the one with all the power in this situation.  They hold all the cards, and its not going to do your client any good to piss them off.  Especially when you're asking them to dismiss a case.

Obviously this attorney doesnt get that and his client will probably get screwed because of it.  Had the defense attorney taken a different approach then he probably could have got the deal he was asking for.  But because he was a jerk, who knows what will happen now.  Throughout my career there have certainly been times when I have been frustrated by a Prosecutor.  But you can't take out those frustrations on the Prosecutor, its bad for business.  Especially when they hold all the cards.  As my mother always said, "treat people like you would want to be treated."

Matthew A. Leyba is the owner of a criminal defense DUI firm in Seattle, WA.  His practice focuses on representing those accused of DUI and other serious traffic offenses.  If you have been arrested for DUI contact our offices for a free consultation.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sandusky still defiant!

Today Sandusky was sentenced to the 45 or so counts of child molestation and other unthinkable, and horrific acts he engaged in.  Essentially the Judge gave him a life sentence, although it was at the low end of the sentencing range of 30 years.  I think Sandusky is 65 years old right now, so basically he will spend the rest of his life behind bars like he deserves.

I was watching the news channel this morning as I was getting ready for work.  Apparently Sandusky made some statements from jail the night before.  Im not going to get into the statements because he obviously is a sick individual who has major, major problems.  And I don't want to waste any of my thoughts and time rewriting what this loser said.

Some of you may wonder why I'm bringing this up since this is a blog by a Seattle DUI Lawyer.  Basically as I was hearing some of the things coming out of Sandusky's mouth and the defiance he still showed despite being convicted by a jury of his peers.  I got to thinking to myself.  This guy must be an idiot.  Lets forget that he is guilty as sin, and all the evidence against him was insurmountable and damning.  This creep is going into his sentencing hearing tomorrow.  And rather than show remorse.  Rather than accepting responsibility.  Rather than apologize to the countless individuals, who's lives were forever ruined by this guy.  He is still spouting off about how this is a conspiracy, and he didnt do these things.

I just thought it was amazing that he would be saying these things.  Especially considering the Judge could do whatever he wanted to Sandusky.  Simply an idiot.  But I guess that is why he is going to prison forever, and hopefully he gets what he deserves down there.  It would be fitting if he was assigned to general population.

Anyway I digress.  The point of this blog is to address DUI issues.  So if you have ever been arrested for a DUI and you're facing a sentencing hearing.  Whether that is after a jury trial conviction, or a guilty plea.  Some words of advice from a Seattle DUI lawyer.  Don't do what that idiot Sandusky did.  Now I realize these are two completely different offenses, and situations.  But if you're in front of a Judge on a DUI sentencing.  If you don't feel remorse, if you don't feel like telling the Judge you screwed up and you learned your lesson.  Then don't say anything at all.  Otherwise the Judge is just going to hammer you, and on a first offense DUI that is something you dont want to deal with.

Anyway I apologize for going off topic today with the Sandusky mess.  But it just amazed me this guy is that clueless.

Matthew A. Leyba is a Seattle DUI Attorney in Western Washington.  His practice focuses on representing those accused of DUI and other serious traffic offenses.  If you have been arrested for a DUI contact our office to set up a free consultation.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

New DOL administrative hearing fee increase for Washington State DUI Arrest

If you have been arrested for a DUI in Washington State then you face two separate legal actions.  One obviously is with the Court system.  The other legal action is with the Washington State Department of licensing.  As of 10/1/12 the fee to deal with this second legal action increased from $200 to a whopping $375.

As a Seattle DUI Attorney it is my opinion to always send in the hearing request fee and challenge the DOL administrative license revocation.  Not only is it a great source of investigation for the criminal case.  You can question the arresting officer, and try out legal arguments with DOL that may be used in the criminal case.  But with the new increased fee many people may not be willing to shell out almost $400 to challenge this license suspension.  Especially when statewide there is around a 20% dismissal rate on these DOL administrative hearings (although Leyba Defense is much much higher).

My opinion is this increase is due solely to budget issues, and DOL trying to get an increase in operating revenue, as opposed to trying to screw over those involved in a Seattle DUI arrest.  As far as whether or not to send in the DOL hearing request form, still do it.

As I stated before Im a Seattle DUI Attorney.  This is what I do for a living.  The DOL hearing is a great way to investigate the case.  You can subpoena the arresting officer.   Everything they say at the hearing is recorded.  Thus if they get caught in a lie or say something that is inconsistent with what they wrote in the police report then boom you have it later to impeach their credibility.  In addition its a great tool to use for negotiation.  If you can prevail at the DOL hearing on a legal issue.  Even though that outcome is unrelated to the criminal case.  You can still provide that written ruling to the Prosecutor in an effort to negotiate and point out an administrative hearing Judge who applies the same law and facts as the criminal Judge would dismissed the legal action.

Bottom line.  This new fee may discourage some people.  But in my opinion, still send it in.  Especially if you want to help yourself in your criminal DUI case.

Matthew A. Leyba is a Seattle DUI Attorney in downtown Seattle.  His practice focuses exclusively on representing those accused of DUI and other serious traffic offenses.  If you have been arrested for a DUI call our offices for a free 60 minute consultation.