A DUI charge is stressful enough but when you add in an accident, there is potential for things to get a lot worse. You should not delay in getting very experienced advice. This is not the time to call your family law lawyer. You need to act quickly so the criminal defense attorney can size up whether you might potentially be looking at a felony charge.
factors to consider
The criminal defense attorney will want to know who was in the car with you. If it was a minor, you this will be an aggravating factor. There are additional penalties you could be facing.
The criminal defense attorney will also want to know if it was a single car accident or whether you hit another vehicle or pedestrian. Additionally, if you know the extent of the injuries, this is critical in the attorney determining the type of criminal charges you will face.
The Cop Said I Will Be Charged With DUI
In nearly all criminal cases in the state of Washington, law enforcement does not make the charging decision. There are a few exceptions to this but you should never assume the officer has any idea how a prosecutor will respond to the reports once they hit his or her desk.
When you are being arrested, the officer believes they have probable cause for a certain crime. That does not mean it is true when all of the facts and reports are reviewed by a prosecutor. The charge might be reduced, which means the original charge is dismissed and refiled under a new criminal case. Alternatively, the charge might be dismissed while the prosecutor waits on a blood draw or more investigation so more serious charges can be brought. The case could also proceed under the crime you were originally arrested for but aggravating factors might be added as new information comes to light.
charging Is Always Up To The Prosecutor – Not The Cop & Not Victims
The primary take away is that a criminal charge can change upon a prosecutor’s review. So, do not argue with an officer at the scene or try to defend yourself. You should remain silent and wait for your lawyer to find legal and factual issues with the case. If the officer wants to ask you questions, you respectfully decline and say you would like to speak with a lawyer before answering any questions.
Your odds of a dismissal increase when there are no damaging statements made by you. And, the reality is, you do not know what is considered “damaging” when it comes to the law. You may think you are “explaining it away” when you are, in fact, adding enough details to justify the arrest or increase your odds of a more significant criminal charge.
The officer is not there to help you and they are not going to determine whether you are, in fact, charged with a crime. The prosecutor always trumps the cops.
Do Not Wait For Your Arraignment To Call
Unfortunately, we frequently get calls from people who decided to “wait and see” if the case will get dismissed at Arraignment. These people are often under the impression from television or bad advice that there will be an opportunity to “explain” the situation. That is not happening. So, do not wait to call a lawyer!
Your Arraignment is a critical stage in the process and, if you are prepared with an experienced defense attorney to argue probable cause and other legal issues handled at Arraignment, you can definitely change the trajectory of your case. And, where an accident is involved, the DUI attorney may have you make a very critical and time-sensitive decision at this hearing. If you miss the opportunity, you could be facing a felony charge later.
If you are facing a criminal charge, do not delay in getting advice. If you have a case in Kitsap or Thurston counties or the cities in that area, please reach out. We are here 7 days a week. (360) 792-1000