Month: May 2019

Can I Drive After a DUI Arrest?

If you’ve recently been arrested on a first offense DUI in California, a question you may have is: can I drive? The short answer is yes. The police will take away your physical driver’s license and give you a pink piece of paper called a temporary driver’s license. That pink piece of paper will serve as your temporary driver’s license for 30 days from the date of your arrest. For example, if you were arrested on January 15th, the driver’s license is good for 30 days after that date.

The temporary driver’s license is very thin, and some people would say hard to read. Some people don’t even read it at all. In the fine print of that document, there are instructions for you to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles, to request a DUI hearing. What most people miss is that you have 10 calendar days to request that hearing. Going back to the example of getting arrested on January 15th, that means that you have 10 days until January 25th, to request that hearing. Now be careful if your 10th day falls on a weekend or a Monday, one of the busiest days for the DMV, it’s best practice to request your hearing as early as possible so that you don’t miss that 10-day deadline. If you hire a lawyer, we can call the DMV on your behalf.

Once you’ve requested that DMV DUI hearing, that pink piece of paper, your temporary driver’s license gets extended past the original 30 days to the hearing date that the DMV will give you. Going back to the example earlier, if you were arrested on January 15th, your driver’s license, your temporary driver’s license is valid until February 15th, but if you request a timely DMV DUI hearing, and your hearing is scheduled in March, that means your temporary driving privileges are now extended until March.

I know that’s a lot of math, but the bottom line is this: request your DMV DUI hearing within 10 days, or your temporary driver’s license will automatically expire after 30 days. By requesting this timely hearing, you extend your driving privileges, giving you time to get a copy of your police report and get your ducks in order.

Another common question that we get from first offense DUI clients in California: is do I have to carry this pink piece of paper with me every time I drive? The short answer is yes, but if for some reason you lose it, you can always request it and get another copy mailed to you. In the meantime, memorize your driver’s license, or have it saved on your phone. If you get pulled over, you can provide your driver’s license number to the police, and they can look you up and confirm that you do in fact, have a temporary driver’s license status.

One more thing… don’t make the mistake of requesting your DMV DUI hearing in person at a local DMV office. There’s a phone number listed on that pink piece of paper for the DMV Driver’s Safety Office. This is a separate office that handles DUI arrests. If you can’t read the phone number on that pink piece of paper, Google DMV Driver’s Safety Offices in your area to get the local phone number. Generally, Oakland Drivers Safety handles Costa County and Alameda Counties while San Francisco Drivers Safety handles counties on that side of the bridge. If you have any questions about this, please don’t hesitate to give our office a call. Lamano Law is here to help.

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Is Accidental Shoplifting a Legitimate Defense?

Is Accidental Shoplifting A Legitimate Defense?

Shoplifting is a crime, despite how small the amount of property stolen might be. It is classified as any theft that deprives a commercial establishment of property that has a value of $950 or less. Anything more than that, and the crime gets classified as grand theft, which can be considered a felony, as opposed to shoplifting, which is a misdemeanor. An example of shoplifting is if someone walks into a store, grabs some merchandise, and walks out without paying. You have probably heard of the types of merchandise that are commonly stolen, such as makeup, candy, and even cell phones and computers. After the person attempts to exit the store, either an alarm goes off, alerting the staff, a security guard outside the door stops them from going further, or a loss prevention representative stops them on their way to or shortly after exiting the store.


Can Shoplifting be Considered Accidental?

The key to a shoplifting charge is intent. The fact is, people walk out of commercial establishments all the time without paying for something by accident. Often, they forget that they put it in their bag, or it’s a smaller item at the bottom of a cart or basket that gets missed by the cashier. In these cases, the person did not intend to steal the items from the store, and therefore it is not considered shoplifting.

That said, it is not an easy defense for those who did not make a mistake. You cannot simply say you forgot to pay for something after getting caught and charged. Accidental shoplifting only applies to those who truly made an honest mistake, and it was obvious at the time of the incident.

An Example of Accidental Shoplifting

A perfect example of an accidental shoplifting situation is when the cashier simply misses items that the shopper intended to pay for. A shopper spends time in a store collecting her items for purchase, placing them in her basket without really paying attention. As it happens, some of the smaller items that she selected ended up inside some of the larger items. The shopper didn’t intend to do this. The cashier does not notice those smaller items, and sends the shopper on their way. After exiting the store, the shopper may be stopped by a loss prevention professional, or the shopper may notice the unpaid items after getting home. She then pays for those items to rectify the error.

This seems to be quite obviously a case where an error is made. If she was prosecuted, the shopper would have a defense to the charge. There may be security cameras that clearly show the shopper placing the items into the basket without paying attention to where the items were going. Of course, the shopper could claim it was accidental, and those cameras could show that she purposely hid the smaller items from the cashier. The act of returning later on to pay for the items does not necessarily negate the fact that the theft occurred in the first place if it was intentional.

There are other situations where a shopper might step outside the store for a moment with merchandise on their person. Maybe they are making a call, or maybe they need to ask a question of a friend waiting outside. A loss prevention officer may consider this to be an attempt to shoplift, and detain them. If there is no evidence that this occurred with malicious intent, then the shopper may have a reasonable defense to any charges.

Legal Defenses for Shoplifting

Intent is the most important factor when it comes to prosecuting shoplifting cases. Prosecutors, security guards, and store cashiers hear the “I meant to pay for it” on a regular basis. It can only be  successful if there is evidence that it was simply a mistake by either the defendant or the staff of the store.

Video evidence can often be very powerful in these cases. The prosecutors will examine this evidence, and pay close attention to the action of the defendant from the time they enter the store to the time they leave. They may also ask the staff if they observed anything about the customer as they shopped. It can sometimes be very obvious if a customer is attempting to conceal merchandise or do something else such as switch price tags.

The fact is, nobody knows what is going on inside anyone else’s head. It can be hard to prove or disprove intent, so if a shopper walks out of a store without paying for something, there is a good chance they will be criminally charged. If this happens to you, then it is always a good idea to hire the best criminal attorney with years of experience defending shoplifting cases to help you get your best possible legal result.

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