Written by attorney Denis Hurley White Jr


Once again, as of January 1, 2017, there have been major changes in the judicial assignments and a rotation of prosecuting attorneys in the handling of DUIs in Sacramento. Parking meters are located all around the courthouse and cost so much now they even take credit cards. There are two public lots where you can pay when you leave, so that you don't have to worry about a ticket if your appearance takes longer than two hours. One takes up the entire block between 7 and 8 Streets & l and H Streets.The other garage is next to the Law Office of Denis H. White, Jr., in the alley directly in front of the court house fountain. The metal detector at the West entrance of the courthouse is slightly more sensitive.Think about what you are taking with you to court. The sheriff will turn you away even if you are running late for court. If your case is on the arraignment calendar at 1:30pm, plan to be there a few minutes early. Seating is limited. Check the court calendar to make sure your name is listed. If you are going to court without a private attorney take an aisle seat as far forward as possible. That way you won't have to climb over people to get to the podium. The sooner the court is able to call your case; the sooner you'll be able to get out of there. If your name is not on the calendar, quietly let the Bailiff know and he/she will tell you what to do. If you are lucky, your case may be one of those that the District Attorney has chosen to reject. If you don't see your case on the calendar, you can go to Room 102 on the first floor of the courthouse and ask one of the clerks to look up your name to see where you should be. My suggestion is that you try to get some direction from the Bailiff first, so that you don't miss any of the information shared in the first thirty minutes after the doors open. Presently, the court shows a short video with instructions on how to get through the arraignment process. If you think you need an interpreter, tell the Bailiff. The court has access to interpreters for all the most common foreign languages and will make arrangements for others as needed. When the Judge takes the bench he/she may also go over your rights as they pertain to criminal cases, share with you the standard penalties for certain offenses and talk about your options regarding sentencing. From the moment the doors open you will see Private Attorneys coming and going. In most instances the law allows us to appear for our clients and we don't ask them to be present. Listen carefully, so that you don't miss your case being called. When you get to the front of the line it's all about YOU, so listen closely. The Bailiff will read your name to the Judge, who will then tell you what crimes you are charged with. He will ask the District Attorney what their offer is, so that you know what the punishment will be if you enter a plea. Your choices are as follows: enter a plea, in which case the District Attorney will hand you a plea form, which you will take outside the courtroom to fill out. You will be told to return it to the Bailiff after you are done, so the court can call your case. You can ask for a Public Defender, in which case you'll be asked to take a seat outside the courtroom until someone from that office calls you into the office they have outside Department 2. If you ask for the Public Defender the Court may quiz you on your gross income. If you don't believe you are going to qualify or don't want a Public Defender, you can ask for a continuance to consult with a Private Attorney. The court is very good about granting a limited amount of time for this purpose, if this is a first offense DUI. If you have one or more prior DUIs in the past 10 years, however, you'll need to be prepared to resolve your case instantly or address the issue of bail. There is a current trend by the District Attorney and Judge to insist on bail reviews where persons are accused of a DUI with priors or other aggravating facts. Where that is anticipated, it may be a good idea to make contact with a reputable bondsman in advance of court, just in case. The court does not deal with the DMV or issues of license suspensions and restrictions on a regular basis. Do not rely on the advice of the court if you have concerns in this area. Sacramento County is one of only four counties that are participating in a pilot program which will require you to install an ignition interlock device on any vehicles owned or operated by you, for every DUI case with a violation date on or after July 1, 2010. ( has researched the different companies that offer the service and can e-mail you a list of companies and their prices if you like. It is difficult or impossible to give advice without the specific facts of a case. If you are uncomfortable with the reason law enforcement came into contact with you, trust your instincts and seek legal advice. Police reports are written by people that have to justify why they made the decision to arrest you. In all these instances people are involved. People make mistakes. Have they made any in your case? While I know what you really want is great results, at the front end you may need to be satisfied with the peace of mind provided by having a lawyer that deals with this area of law looking out for your interests.

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