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I am expecting to be sentenced for a DUI with enhancements. What steps can be taken to lower my sentence?

San Francisco, CA |

I've had friends mention character letters and neuro-psychiatric evaluations. Can anyone elaborate on these two and offer any other helpful measures for getting the sentence lowered? I've been in rehab and I do have cognitive/psychological conditions (that can be argued to have influenced the car accident in context). How do I go about requesting a neuro-psych evaluation?

The enhancement was great bodily harm. It's also a second offense.

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Attorney answers 8


The first question I have is: What are the "enhancements?" High BAC? Child in the car? Accident causing injury? Multiple DUIs?

There are certain mandatory minimums that kick in for certain enhancements. The judge MUST sentence someone to x amount of time based upon some of them.

Talk to a lawyer in person about this and see what your options may be. Trying to figure out what will mitigate a case is a very fact specific endeavor. Good luck!

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If you BAC was over .15 or you got into an accident - you are looking at enhancements to your sentence. Ido not know what your other evidence will establish - but it certainly is worth a try. I hope you have an attorney!



Discuss this with your attorney. If you do not have one, get one. This is a serious charge.

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I would hope you have an attorney and you should be discussing this with them! The GBI could add significant time in prison. You should be talking to your attorney about finding a way to stay the punishment on the GBI and get probation. Without knowing more you should at least be doing AA, other treatment, and character letters. Good luck!


Since you are at the sentencing stage of your case, I assume you have an attorney who represented you when you pleaded guilty or were convicted after a trial. If my assumption is correct, then you should definitely discuss your questions with your attorney. As a general matter, I find it to be effective in DUI cases for my clients to have begun going to AA meetings prior to sentencing, and to have proof that they have attended. If there was an accident, I urge my clients to try to make restitution to the victims prior to sentencing. Character letters can be helpful, especially if they are written by someone with some stature in your community (such as a clergyman, police officer or attorney), and who clearly states that he or she knows you well and that the incident was not in your normal character. Typically, each letter should be no more than one page in length. The letters should include the writer's telephone number. It can also be very helpful to have family members or close friends attend your sentencing. As for the neuro-psych evaluation, in my experience judges are disinclined to order them without an unusually strong reason. There is, of course, nothing stopping you from hiring someone to do the evaluation; however, you should consult your attorney before doing it. Finally, there are some enhancements that are mandatory, which your attorney can explain to you.

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An attorney would need to know more about your case to better advise. For example, what kind of enhancement or additional charges are at issue here? High BAC level? Children in the car? Prior DUI's, DUI(s) with Injury? etc.

Although websites like this can be helpful for getting some general answers, it is certainly advisable for you to retain an attorney to assist you and defend your case. Once your attorney has more information, he or she will be in a better position to answer your specific questions, as well as defend your case. There are some good DUI defense attorneys in the San Francisco area, some of which can be found on the AVVO website.

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Philip Daniel Hache

Philip Daniel Hache


to elaborate a little more, if you were in rehab since the incident, and diagnosed with psychological conditions, they can potentially be mitigating factors that your attorney can potentially use in the event you are convicted and sentenced. Speak to your attorney about this further, or meet with an attorney or two in your area to discuss your case from the beginning.


To get a nuero-psych eval you should talk to your primary care physician and start the process that way. A cognitive/psychological condition "that can be argued to have influenced the car accident in context" can also be used to argue why you should never have been behind the wheel in the first place. So, you should expect that to be turned around on you.

A second with GBI = mandatory sentencing. I am guessing you were convicted of a 23153VC as a felony with a 12022.7 allegation. The 12022.7 (GBI) is going to carry a 3 yr sentence. About all you can hope for is the court stays (not strikes) the imposition of that time. However, to do so, the court is going to have to go on the record and state the compelling reasons for its staying the time. (Most courts are loathe to do so.) GBIs are pretty much viewed as "mandatory" time that must be imposed in almost all instances. So, you're really working to lower the base sentence on the 23153 - and that's 16 months. You'll probably get the low term of 16 months without having to do much, but staying the GBI is going to be very difficult. (Sorry, that's usually the way it is. And, if the GBI was to a 3rd party (someone not your passenger), then you really have an uphill battle.) Because of the GBI you will be limited to 15% good time credits.

As my colleagues have pointed out - you probably have an attorney already. You really need to be discussing these issues with him/her.


Contact a local attorney, they will now the local procedures.

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