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Santa Barbara DUI: Must I Personally Appear Before a Judge?

If you are arrested for a misdemeanor DUI Santa Barbara courts are typically a place you may not want to endure.

Typically an alleged Santa Barbara drunk driver is arrested, and then released from jail sometime later with their “Promise to appear” in court on a certain date and time. So does that mean you must absolutely personally appear in court that day? No.

Under the law you are permitted to have your Santa Barbara Attorney appear on your behalf.
This is a very common practice in courtrooms around the state. It is commonly referred to as a “977 appearance,” or “appearing 977.” It is based on California Penal Code Section 977 which allows someone charged with a misdemeanor only, to appear via his or her attorney and his or her presence is generally not required, with certain limited exceptions.

Penal Code 977. (a) (1) In all cases in which the accused is charged with a
misdemeanor only, he or she may appear by counsel only, except as
provided in paragraphs (2) and (3).

This is why it is critical to have an attorney who knows the law and will politely but aggressively assert a defendant’s statutory right not to be present.

Will it help my Santa Barbara DUI case if I personally appear?

No, not really. We would all wish that by standing in front of the Judge, exalting your good character, unraveling this Santa Barbara DUI as an isolated mistake, that it would be viewed favorably by the courts. Well it could, only if that were what the Judge and courts did day in and day out, but that is not the case. The initial court appearance, also known as the arraignment, is very impersonal. Exalting your good character is often a task taken behind the scenes, generally when negotiating with the prosecutor. There are of course certain times when your character or your personal presence in court can be beneficial, and that is when your knowledgeable Santa Barbara DUI lawyer can be most valuable.

Will it hurt my case if I elect to have my Santa Barbara DUI lawyer appear without me?

No. The courts are a very busy place, with countless cases be called up by the minute. So the reality is that by appearing through your DUI Attorney Santa Barbara court loads are somewhat lessened with the time saving of a lawyer “977” appearance.
Once again, there are certain times when your personal presence in court can be beneficial, and that is when your knowledgeable Santa Barbara DUI lawyer can be most valuable.

Countless Reasons for Not Wanting to Personally Attend Your Santa Barbara DUI Court Hearing

This waiver of a defendant’s personal presence is also extremely valuable to many people who are extremely busy with work and other personal obligations, and prefer to have an experienced Santa Barbara DUI Lawyer appear on their behalf instead. The time saved not having to drive to court and wait in court for a case to be called (which can sometimes take hours for an appearance that lasts one minute or less) is alone often well worth the cost of an attorney. Of the many reason someone may wish not to personally appear in court, the following appear to be the most common;

1. Dignity

There is no doubt being arrested for DUI can be embarrassing. To exasperate this embarrassment is having to stand up in front of the world and Judge. This can be overwhelming. The law, specifically Penal Code 977 provides you the option of appearing through your Santa Barbara DUI lawyers presence. So why subject yourself to increased embarrassment and anxiety, when the law and efficiency provides otherwise?

2. Work

There is no mistaking it, a DUI arrest, conviction, acquittal, plea bargain, no matter what will come with an economic blow to the gut. The time spent in court can be counterproductive both costing you in lost wages on top of court fees and fines. As I often tell clients, “you go to work, and I go to court, that’s why you have me.”

3. School

Just like those who work, school also something that should not be missed because of a DUI court appearance. You have worked hard to achieve your scholastic goals, and missed classes can be detrimental to your hard work. The law and your school schedule demands you be in two places at once, however the law also allows you to be represented and appear through your Santa Barbara DUI Attorney. As I often tell student clients, “you go to school, and I go to court, that’s why you have me.”

4. Travel

Whether you live across town or across the state it is costly to travel to court. There is parking fees, gas, or an array of expenses that accompany travel. Maybe, your license has already been suspended, or you have not received your restricted license, so you need a ride from a friend or family. Why? The law provides that you can appear in court through your Santa Barbara DUI lawyer. This will not hurt your case. There is little benefit, if at all for you to be standing in court. Once again, there are certain times when your personal presence in court can be beneficial, and that is when your knowledgeable Santa Barbara DUI lawyer can be most valuable.

There is an exception to the rule of your Santa Barbara DUI lawyer appearing on your behalf.

There is a DUI-Related Exception, however most, in fact almost all DUI matters are not impacted by the rule.
Penal Code Section 977(a)(3) specifically allows a judge to order a defendant accused of driving under the influence, DUI or DWI with injury (only if charged as a misdemeanor), reckless driving involving alcohol (also known as a wet reckless), and certain acts of vehicular manslaughter involving alcohol (only if charged with a misdemeanor) to be personally present at arraignment (the initial proceeding), time of plea or at sentencing.

Penal Code Section 977
(2) If the accused is charged with a misdemeanor offense involving domestic violence, as defined in Section 6211 of the Family Code, or a misdemeanor violation of Section 273.6, the accused shall be present for arraignment and sentencing, and at any time during the proceedings when ordered by the court for the purpose of being informed of the conditions of a protective order issued pursuant to Section 136.2.
(3) If the accused is charged with a misdemeanor offense involving driving under the influence, in an appropriate case, the court may order a defendant to be present for arraignment, at the time of plea, or at sentencing. For purposes of this paragraph, a misdemeanor offense involving driving under the influence shall include a misdemeanor violation of any of the following:
(A) Subdivision (b) of Section 191.5.
(B) Section 23103 as specified in Section 23103.5 of the Vehicle Code.
(C) Section 23152 of the Vehicle Code.
(D) Section 23153 of the Vehicle Code.

However most, in fact almost all DUI matters not involving injury or death, most judges do not make such an order as stated above and allow your attorney to make all appearances, including allowing attorneys to submit rights waivers where a plea bargain agreement has been reached. Now there are some judges that have taken the opposite approach and have ordered defendants personally present at proceedings even where the Penal Code specifically allows their absence. Once again your knowledgeable Santa Barbara DUI lawyer can be most valuable in aggressively protecting your interests as it relates to such a judicial order. Again, there are certain times when your personal presence in court may be beneficial, and that is when your knowledgeable Santa Barbara DUI lawyer can be most valuable.

Generally, no written form for misdemeanor DUI appearance waivers are required, however, a “977 Client” must remain in regular contact and inform their lawyer of lengthy vacations or trips that are planned, or conflicting work or school schedules.

So in most, almost all misdemeanor Santa Barbara DUI cases a defendant can utilize a Santa Barbara DUI lawyer to save the time, money, and embarrassment of personally appearing and standing up front and center in the courtroom. If you have been arrested and are now charged with a misdemeanor DUI and do not desire to go to court, for whatever your reason, the law provides you choice to forego personally appearing in court in most cases.

To be sure if you can stay away from the courtroom, if you can be that “977 appearance,” contact a highly qualified Santa Barbara DUI Attorney, such as, Kenneth M. Hallum, Attorney at Law. Know your rights, options, and defenses throughout the entire Santa Barbara DUI process.

About DUI805.com: DUI805.com is the website for Santa Barbara DUI attorney, Kenneth M. Hallum. Information is easily accessible about underage DUI penaltiesDUI plea bargain options, and penalties for a DUI. Visit the website at https://www.dui805.com to download a complimentary PDF entitled, “Top 10 Reasons Clients Choose Ken Hallum: Beat Your DUI By Knowing the Facts.” “Like” the Facebook page to receive timely tips and information regarding DUI offenses in Santa Barbara CA. Call 805-564-3101 for a complimentary Santa Barbara DUI consultation.

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About Santa Barbara DUI Attorney Kenneth M. Hallum:
As a DUI defense attorney, Kennnth Hallum is dedicated to an understanding of the art and science of California DUI defense with memberships in the California DUI Lawyers Association, the National College of DUI Defense, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the California Public Defenders Association, and the State Bar of California.

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