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CriminalDefense, Attorney
Category: Traffic Law
Satisfied Customers: 28035
Experience:  10 + years in Traffic Ticket Defense, DUI/DWI and Criminal Defense cases
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DUI International Student First Offense

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What is the worst possible sentence for an International Student (F-1 Status) whom has committed "DUI reckless driving"? The driver had 0.09% alcohol, is underage (he is 20 years old) and it is his first offense. The student was unable to attend his first hearing, to which his lawyer attended and said it was OK for him to not be present. The lawyer informed him, "As you know we appeared on your behalf for your Pre-Trial Conference on June 28, 2013. We were able to obtain a Pre-Trial offer for a reduced charge of a reckless driving, alcohol related on your case. However, the District Attorney kept this offer open only until the next court date of July 17, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. The terms of the reduced charge of reckless driving alcohol related is 2 years of court probation, First Offender Program, Light DUI School, fines and fees totalling $1,514 and you do not have to be sentenced to any jail, SWAP or community service. Jeffry, we understand that you will not be back until September, however, the District Attorney and the Court would not agree to a continuance until you return. The offer expires on July 17, 2013 and in order to take advantage of this offer, if you decide, is to execute a plea in absentia to the offer on your behalf. Jeffry, please contact us as soon as practicable to inform us of your decision as well as answer any of your questions. Please contact our office and if Nors is unavailable, our assistant Liz Sohn or I will do our best to assist." Does this sound as a legitimate sentence for an underage F-1 International Student? I have heard of several other people of the same standing (F-1 Status, underage and also DUI) whom have received much lighter sentences such as only paying a small fee/fine. P.S. This offense was made in San Francisco, California.

Hi! I will be the professional that will be helping you today. I look forward to providing you with information to help solve your problem.

Good morning. I certainly understand the situation and concern. In the event that the plea is not taken, then the original DUI charge will remain and the State will not amend the charge to a reckless driving which is a lesser offense then the DUI. I have provided for you below, the worst possible penalties if the student were to go to trial and lose, which the Judge could imposed.

When convicted of driving under the influence for the first time, the potential penalties are as follows:

Informal (otherwise known as "summary") probation for three to five years,

Up to six months in a county jail

Between $390-$1,000 in fines,

A three- or nine-month court-approved alcohol and/or drug education program (AB541 class),

A six- to ten-month driver's license suspension that generally may be converted to a "restricted license". A restricted license enables you to drive during the course of your employment, and to and from work, school, and/or California DUI school.

The plea which was offered and the sentence imposed, does sound reasonable. It is unlikely that for someone who was charged with the same things as this student and who was offered a plea, only received a fine and walked out of there with nothing more. While all cases and facts are different, I am inclined to believe the people who have told you that they only had to pay a fine, are not disclosing everything or ended up being charged with something lesser. If the student does want to accept the plea but can not possible return to the states until after the offer expires, his/her attorney can try and file a motion with the court, asking that the case be continued because of the hardship and respectfully XXXXX XXXXX the State keep the offer open, as a result of the hardship it would cause as a result of being out of the country and having to return, along with the fact that he would be placed on probation and could not be monitored by probation, if out of the country. That is another thing to recognize. If he took the plea tomorrow, the State may not let him just leave since there are terms and conditions imposed, which he has to comply with. It sounds as though the lawyers worked out a good plea deal, assuming he has no legal defenses and cant go to trial. The obstacle is going to be the issue with him residing out of the contrary and complying with the sentence imposed.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Sorry but I do have some additional questions that I need to ask beforehand. My lawyer asked for an upfront payment of $2,000. I was unsure of this payment but paid it nonetheless due to the circumstances I was in. He said that it was a fee I needed to pay. At first, I assumed that this was some sort of service fee as the lawyer came to the trial without my attendance. I checked again, and it seems that a lot if not all lawyers in the US abide by a "contingent fee" which is a fee paid only when the case is won. So now I'm a bit confused on what the $2,000 fee was about. Is there usually some sort of down payment beforehand? Does this sound legitimate? Is this some sort of fee that is needed to be paid beforehand, I thought that all fees would be paid after the case is settled/won (this fee was paid before the case had been settled/won). I'm worried that there will be another fee after that is applied after the case is won. Would it be legitimate that he asks me for some sort of additional fee?


Apologies for the lengthy questions, I am unsure of how this works.

I would be happy to answer that. A contingency fee is normally found in civil cases, dealing with personal injury or other cases of recovery. A contingency fee is not allowed to be charge in a criminal case and the $2000 was the retainer and fee which the attorney charges for representation. This is likely the cost for him to handle the case and is typical earned when paid and nonrefundable. Any fee which you are required to pay should be in writing, in the retainer agreement that was signed. If anything, you may have to pay additional costs for depositions if they are taken and any other cost incurred during the representation that is going to be used to gather evidence and for the case.
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